This is my friend Giuseppe.
Giuseppe is awesome.
To state the obvious given away by his name, Giuseppe is Italian.
He speaks with his hands, words rolling off his tongue with the flair given to those with Mediterranean blood, and always, he smiles with his eyes.
Each time I see him, I can't help but be happy. He makes me laugh to the point of tears and sore cheeks.
Yes, Giuseppe is awesome.
During one of our many conversations about food and friends, food with friends and food for friends, Giuseppe asked me if I'd ever heard of the 7 Cup Cake. I had not. He said that it was a cake that all Italians know and that I must try it, one, because I'm obsessed with baking, two, it's delicious. Fair enough!
It's a bit of a quirky recipe and the quirk factor is hinted at in the cake's name. 7 Cups.
See, leaving out the eggs, the recipe's raw ingredients total seven cups. But, that's not what makes this recipe unique, it's the "cup" that's used which makes this recipe a slight oddity, yet makes complete sense. It also makes it a brilliant recipe for new bakers, the likes of college students and kids. (And possibly also for those of us who haven't yet had a chance to wash the dirty dishes, measuring cups included!)
The "cup" is actually a small yoghurt tub.
When Giuseppe first told me about this odd fact, my baker's brain kinda went, What? But, as he explained the recipe it actually made perfect sense. Firstly, you use the yoghurt in the recipe, then using the now empty tub, you measure out the other ingredients. That's 1 "cup" yoghurt + 1 olive oil + 2 sugar + 3 flour = 7 cups (+ our eggs, can't forget those) and everything's kept in perfect proportion!
So, just like my friend Giuseppe, this recipe is simply delightful and easy to get along with, and of course, fun!
I have to admit, I actually didn't try this cake immediately. In fact, not for a couple of months. Somehow it was put on the to-bake list along with a long list of other recipes. If you're a recipe collector (hoarder!) like me, you'll know how that can happen.
Then I'd ordered an Italian desserts and sweets recipe book as part of some research for my baking classes.
Flipping through the pages, low and behold, there it was. The 7 Cup Cake recipe. That pushed this up the to-bake list!
I was like a kid again when I first tried this recipe! Just the novelty of pushing my scale and measuring cups aside to be replaced by a humble plastic yoghurt tub got me all excited! I love baking, you all know this, but this recipe made me remember why I love baking.
It's very easy to get caught up in the stiff and proper way that baking is normally done, and don't get me wrong, I fully understand that baking is more a science than an art and that most often if you want success you need to follow the rules to a "t", but, BUT... Sometimes a cake recipe should be more about the fun of the actual baking process, not caring if you've spilled a bit of this and that, with sugar and flour all over the place. And most of all, being reminded of the novelty of starting with raw ingredients that you mix together to create something light and fluffy, moist, sweet and tasty. This recipe is that reminder of why baking is so much fun. And I promise you, weighing scales cast aside, I made this recipe about five times in the space of a few weeks and it came out perfectly each and every time!
So what's the deal with the strange sounding combo of apple and rosemary?
Truthfully, it wasn't my idea.
The recipe in the book, Dolci, had suggested this curious flavour combination, along with a few other suggestions (some of which I'll be posting as well!)
Now, I don't blame you for being sceptical about the rosemary. It's a herb normally associated to savoury dishes, especially infusing itself into meat with its pungent aroma, and that's exactly what I thought. Until now.
Like the scales and measuring cups, shove that scepticism aside and just trust me on this. It's awesome. See, I even made the word bold to emphasize how awesome it is (possibly as awesome as Giuseppe ;) )
If you were given a slice of this cake and took a bite not knowing what flavour it was, at first you wouldn't even realise the rosemary was there, especially if you first bite into a lovely soft chunk of apple. Then as you chew, this strange flavour sneaks its way to the front. It's a sweet aroma, slightly earthy, and you can't quite put your finger on what the flavour is. You know you know it, it's quite literally on the tip of your tongue, and yet you can't recall its name.
Then someone says it, Rosemary.
YES! That's it! That's the flavour!
For a herb that's normally so very strong and bold, it does very well at blending in smoothly in the background waiting to come forward. It really does leave a lovely taste in your mouth.
See, I'm even getting all poetic about it! I'm not poetic!
This super moist cake isn't overly sweet and doesn't need to be piled high with sugary frosting, all it needs is a dusting of powdered sugar, and that's just for the "pretty" factor.
The book actually recommends serving your 7 Cup Cake in your flavour of choice with a spoon of jam or mascarpone, but I decided a drizzle of caramel sauce would go well with the apple. Hubby agreed!
You can serve this cake while still warm. It also keeps very well in a sealed container, so you can have your cold slices the next day and even the day after that, if it survives that long...
Now, I'm not sure if making it in a bundt tin is the normal thing to do, I'll have to check with Giuseppe about that, but that's what the recipe recommended and it baked beautifully.
I actually also tried this batter in cupcake form, and they were just as good. Obviously baked for less time, but they rose beautifully and looked perfect.
Now, me being me, I did tweak the recipe ever so slightly. But just slightly!
I replaced the plain flour and baking powder with self raising flour, that way it always has the right amount of raising agent in it. I also added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla, of course!
I'm definitely going to write more about the 7 Cup Cake recipe, but for now, just enjoy this apple and rosemary cake, preferably, sharing it with a friend!
Apple & Rosemary Cake
(For the bundt cake as seen in the photos above, I was using a 150g yoghurt tub. See tips below regarding eggs when using a smaller or larger tub)
1 tub Plain Yoghurt (full or low fat)
2 tubs Granulated Sugar
3 tubs Self Raising Flour
1 tub Light Olive Oil or Canola or Sunflower Oil
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt
1 large Bramley Apple (or 2 regular Granny Smiths), peeled, cored and chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted)
- Generously grease and flour a bundt cake pan
- Empty yoghurt into a large bowl
- Using the empty yoghurt tub to measure, add the dry ingredients to the yoghurt, then the oil
- Add the salt, vanilla and eggs
- Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, combine the ingredients just until everything is mixed and there aren't any large lumps
- Add the chopped apple and rosemary, and mix just until combined
- Pour batter into prepared baking tin
- Bake for 30 - 40 mins, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertip
- Tip: Because this is such a moist cake, a toothpick won't come out clean, but it shouldn't have any raw and unbaked batter on it
- On a wire rack, leave to cool in the tin for 20-30 mins
- Gently turn out cake onto a wire rack and leave to cool until ready to serve
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve
- Tip: Serve warm with a spoon of jam, or cool with a dollop of mascarpone or a drizzle of caramel sauce
If you'd like to adapt this recipe to make more or less batter, then simply use a smaller or larger tub of yoghurt, or, use a cup to measure the yoghurt. For every 1/4 cup (60ml) of yoghurt, use 1 large Egg.
If making these as cupcakes, fill your liners to about 3/4 full, and bake for 18-20mins
Because this recipe is dependant on what you're using to measure, I can't give you an exact baking time so when baking a deeper/taller bundt cake, then bake as directed in the recipe, but after 40mins, check the cake regularly until it's done. Start by giving it an extra 10mins, if it's still not baked, then start checking every 5mins after that.
When baking with more batter and for longer, halfway through baking, lay a sheet of tinfoil over the top of the cake tin to stop it from browning too much.