Rosemary Remembrance Cake


When I posted about my abundance of rosemary and threatened to bake a rosemary cake, readers made rosemary cake suggestions in the comments. I was attracted to the rosemary remembrance cake because of the name. It sounds old-fashioned and romantic, though I’m not sure it’s actually an old idea, or at least not this particular recipe. The idea of remembrance cake is old, and varied, though–remembrance cake is something that is sentimental, a special favorite cake of a passed loved one, or a “war” cake (one of those eggless, milkless ones, to remember the sacrifices made by many during the lean World War II years). The popularization of a rosemary cake for remembrance, and this recipe, seems to stem from celebrity chef Nigella, who created a rosemary remembrance cake in honor of her grandmother, whose name was Rosemary. And thus, nearly every remembrance cake on the internet is now a rosemary remembrance cake using Nigella’s recipe. You can actually make any kind of remembrance cake you want. But, I have a lot of rosemary, so I went with Nigella. Rosemary as an herb has been used as a symbol for remembrance since ancient times, so it’s quite fitting in any case, and I was very intrigued with this recipe and wanted to try it out.

The trouble with Nigella, of course, is that she writes recipes in that elementary school ruler-smackin’ on your fingers unintelligible metric measurements. (By the time you grow up, everybody’s going to be using metric! SMACK! Except……!!!! NOT!!!) See? I’m so not over that fourth grade trauma!

Anyway. She also calls ingredients by weird names. (Like caster sugar. Which is what we call superfine sugar. Which I translate to plain old sugar and I’m here to tell you that works just fine in the recipe. Though, right after I made this cake, I found this easy tip from CindyP for making your own superfine sugar.)

Here is my rendition of Nigella’s rosemary remembrance cake, with a few shortcuts (due to what I have on hand) and simplified to measurements that I can grasp. I used a cup of plain applesauce instead of chopped apples to simmer with the rosemary sprigs because I didn’t have any fresh apples and I had some home-canned applesauce. The apples will be pulverized in the food processor anyway. I also didn’t have a fresh lemon, so I had to forego the zest. I used bottled lemon juice. (I would recommend using the fresh with the zest if you have it. This is definitely a do as I say not as I do thing. I was just too lazy to leave the holler for a lemon.)

You can check out Nigella’s original recipe here.

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How to make Rosemary Remembrance Cake:

1 cup chopped apple or 1 cup plain applesauce
1 small sprig and 1 long sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus heaping 3/4 cup sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice)
1 teaspoon plus 1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Combine apple, small rosemary sprig, the 1 teaspoon sugar, lemon, and the 1 teaspoon butter in a small saucepan. Simmer for about 5 minutes (or until chopped apple softens, if using fresh apple).

Let cool and remove rosemary sprig. Transfer mixture to food processor and puree (if you used fresh apple). Combine with remaining ingredients–the heaping 3/4 cup sugar, the 1 cup butter, 3 eggs, flour, and baking powder.

Nigella’s measurements actually translate to 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar. I just went with heaping.

Close enough!

Mix well. (If not using fresh apple, you could do this whole thing with your mixer instead of using the food processor. I used my mixer.)

Grease and/or line a regular-size loaf pan. (I actually do both–I grease the pan but also line the bottom with a piece of parchment cut to fit. Cakes like this have a tendency to stick, and it makes it easier to get the cake out.) Transfer mixture to the loaf pan. Place the long sprig of rosemary down the center of the batter and press lightly.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (It only took 45 minutes for me.)

Note: I found that I needed to tent the top with foil in the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.

Cool in pan on a wire rack before removing the cake.

Nigella says, “On baking, the rosemary sheds its oil to leave a scented path down the middle of the cake.” I have to admit, a sweet treat with rosemary sounds a little odd, but this cake is delicious. I love the scent of rosemary, and it pairs surprisingly well with the apple cake. (And not only does it taste good, it smells fantastic in the oven while it’s baking.)

I also adore the idea of a remembrance cake in honor of someone that you love. Create your own–or try this one. It’s an unusual, moist, and not-too-sweet cake. And it has a neat presentation. I want to make it again sometime when we’re having company.

If you were going to create your own “remembrance cake” in honor of someone you loved, what would it be and who would it be for? If I made a remembrance cake for my mom, I think it would be Fruity Remembrance Cake. Because she was Miss Fruit Cake. She had fruit cake every year at Christmas, and SENT fruit cakes to other people. And nobody wanted them! (They weren’t homemade fruit cakes. It was some mail order fruit cake thing she loved.) I think I’m going to do that…. Come up with a homemade fruit cake recipe (that I like, cuz otherwise I’d have to give it to the goats) and call it Fruity Remembrance Cake!

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Rosemary Remembrance Cake

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  1. BeppyCat says:

    The first thing I thought when I saw this post’s title was Ophelia, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
    Interesting that it’s a cake that’s actually in remembrance for a real Rosemary. I think that’s meta-baking. 🙂

  2. Granny Trace says:

    :happyflower: I love the rosemary remembrance cake..I just planted my own rosemary after seeing yours. Can’t wait to try.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Granny Trace

  3. prayingpup says:

    If I made a remembrance cake, it would be in remembrance of my mother. She made fruit cake every Christmas. They were hard and dry, but I loved picking the fruit and nuts out and eating them. Maybe I would make a light, moist one . . . :heart:

  4. lindalenore says:

    If I were to make a rememberance cake it would be a orange chiffon cake in memory of my mom. She was always making chiffon cakes and sticking them in the freezer (it was a good way to use up LOTS of eggs) and when it was our birthday, we got to choose what flavour we wanted. Mine was always orange.

  5. cabynfevr says:

    I would make a remembrance cake for my Grandmother and my Mother. It would be a delicious cake my Grandma used to make with raisins and a cooked icing she called “Yum Yum Cake”.

  6. mamajoseph says:

    I also immediately thought of Ophelia’s ‘rosemary for remembrance’ line. Sidenote: There is a legend about how the fragrant herb got its name. The story goes that Mary, the mother of Jesus laid her cloak on the plant to dry. In honor of her, the plant bloomed in the color of her cloak. Doubtful, of course, because she was certainly too poor to have a lavender/blue colored cloak, but still, a lovely thought.

  7. MonkeyPhil says:

    My mother used to make what she called “Economy Cake” using bead flour, bacon grease (we used Crisco)raisins and walnuts. It backed in a cake pan and I loved it. That would be my rememberance cake. For one I really remember.

  8. EriksGrl71 says:

    I do make a remembrance cake every Christmas for my Grandmother. And it just so happens to be a fruit cake of sorts. It is called a Bourbon Pecan Cake, and everyone (even people who think they hate fruit cake) loves this cake. I make it every year and think of her making it in years past.

  9. Alexandra says:

    I would love to make this cake in remembrance of my father, who passed away fifty tears ago today, June 13th, when I was a little girl, and of my brother, who would have been 62 on June 11th. I would also like to make this cake with pear puree, as I have often made a pear pie with rosemary crust and the combination is delicious!

  10. Cerine says:

    What is most interesting to me is what I am currently in school studying. :happyflower:
    I’m studying to become a Phytotherapist (A herbalist)
    Rosemary tea is used in my school to help the mind Remember!
    My professor for Mat Med recommends drinking a few cups a day during exams week! :woof:
    I will be baking this cake to go with my tea :heart:

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