Orange Rosemary Bundt Cake

posted in: Desserts, Recipes | 21

I had an I-Can’t-Believe-I-Made-That moment when this cake slipped out of the new bundt pan. Its surface was like a helmet of crisp, melted sugar; it hit its final destination of a plate with a slight spring. A wave of warm, buttery caramel, with citrus and spruce filled my nostrils. It looked like an Art Deco sculpture of sorts. It was a real moment of victory. And I can’t wait for it to happen to you, hopefully, too.

While other, flashier citrus from the south migrates onto menus this wintry season — like Meyer lemons and blood oranges — I thought I’d play around with a plain old navel orange for this simple cake. So sweet and sizable, you’ll only need one of these baseball-sized fruit to zest and squeeze for a distinct tropical note. Fresh rosemary, not dried, gave it some more seasonal appeal and I just love adding the evergreen to sweets.

a navel orange gets skinned


So my path was set: making this cake for a friend’s birthday. I don’t typically keep mounds of cookware and baking supplies, so when I found myself with a new bundt pan given by a friend, it stayed in the cupboard for several months. But birthdays are special, and the perfect occasion to give it a test-run, as well as this cake flavor idea.

a coat of butter and sugar is a must for the pan

baked to golden

I drew from various bundt cake recipes of the most basic kind in order to come up with this formula. But when it was all said and done, fresh out of the oven, I realized that a few traditional flairs were missing: to glaze the cake, or not to glaze? How about sprinkle with powdered sugar? A rich frosting seemed like it would soften the shell-like crust that I found so pleasing, achieved by preparing the bundt pan with a smear of butter and sprinkling sugar throughout. This was also key to getting the cake to slide out of the pan, a highly functional move. Don’t skip it, lest your cake stay in there forever.

with optional garnish

I eventually dusted powdered sugar across the top of the cake, which looked like snow, then stuck a spare rosemary sprig in it for more foresty appeal. Maybe candied orange slices would have worked nice layered on top if I’d had the time. Well, didn’t matter. This cake looked impressive enough straight from the oven, and it was quickly consumed in any case. And come to think of it, compared to cupcakes, or layer cakes, making it was pretty quick, too. Who knew bundt pans were so useful? You’ve heard it from a convert: Danke she.

Orange Rosemary Bundt Cake
(makes one 8″ ring-shaped bundt cake)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup juice from same orange
3 cups all-purpose or cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
extra butter and sugar to coat pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, orange zest and juice. Sift flour and combine with the baking powder. Gradually stir in dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with the milk. Stir in the rosemary.

Smear butter all over the inside of a 8″ bundt pan. Sprinkle sugar on the interior and tilt until the entire surface is evenly coated. Fill the pan with the batter and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes, and invert onto a plate.

Cost Calculator
(for 8-10 servings)

1 stick butter (at $7/lb): $1.75
1 cup sugar: $0.40
3 eggs: $0.75
1/2 tsp vanilla: $0.20
1 orange: $0.60
1/2 cup milk: $0.50
3 cups flour: $1.80
4 tsp baking powder: $0.30
2 tablespoons rosemary (from houseplant): $1.00

Total: $6.30

Health Factor

Seven brownie points: There’s no denying a dessert at times, but when you do indulge, best to keep it to known, and preferably few ingredients. I was amazed by all the strange, processed ingredients I found in cake recipes when searching online, from pudding packets to soda or cake mixes, which I thought were supposed to do the job alone. It’s simple: cakes are butter, sugar, eggs, flour and milk, plus whatever else you may do to them. Why not keep them fresh and natural, too, with some fresh herbs and citrus? Both additions add hints of essential nutrients, along with flavor.

Green Factor

Four maple leaves: Citrus fruits are such a gift from the south, and I don’t think there’s any locavore chef in town who can live without lemons. So while giving into its charms, this recipe’s ingredients can otherwise be found easily year round, like the homegrown rosemary, and eggs, butter and dairy from local farms.

21 Responses

  1. syd

    I love the combination of citrus and herbs, especially in the late winter. This cake looks great and I can just smell the orange zest and rosemary from looking at the photos.

    BTW, I think you mean Danke schön 😉

  2. What a terrific idea to include the cost of the ingredients. Thank you for that.

    You mentioned Meyer lemons. Do you have any recommended recipes for Meyer lemons? Do you think your Rosemary Bundt Cake would work with Meyers?

    Every year I host a potluck dinner where everyone is asked to bring a Meyer lemon dish, from entrees to desserts. Everything has to have Meyer lemons in it. I must admit that I am running out of creative ideas for Meyer lemon dishes. Do you have any recommendations for Meyer lemon recipe books?


  3. autumn

    the bundt pan has been on my “to-buy” list forever, but this gorgeous little number may be just the motivation i needed. thanks!

  4. Judith Petruccio

    I LOVE my bundt pan!!! I’m looking forward to trying your butter and sugar pan coating – I’ve been using Crisco and flour for my chocolate bundt cake recipe. Enjoy!!

  5. Lin Ann

    Oh My Goodness! This cake sounds amazing. The title captured my attention, ORANGE and ROSEMARY. I had to read on. You described it so deliciously that I found myself trying to smell it! I really don’t like to bake, at all, but I must try this. Thanks!

  6. Molly

    I’ve got an orange rosemary cake in the oven! Up next, meyer lemon and thyme.

  7. […] at Not Eating Out in New York has made a orange rosemary bundt cake. […]

  8. Klara

    Your bundtcake has a really lovely color. I would suggest that you prepare it more traditional way, like we do it here around Vienna: separate yolks and whites, and fold whipped whites as your last step. This would allow using less of the baking powder (4 teaspoons of baking powder in a single bundtcake sound like really too much to me) and definitely improve taste of your cake.

  9. […] Orange Rosemary Bundt Cake » Not Eating Out in New York. […]

  10. Kathy

    This sounds wonderful. I may even apply the same thought to my scones that have orange zest in them. Looking forward to trying this out this week!

  11. Anne B.

    As a huge fan of lemon lavender pound cake, I will definitely be trying this bundt cake! The sugary “crust” sounds amazing.

  12. Cathy Erway

    Thanks, everyone!
    Syd: Whoops, “thank you!”
    Ariel: Sadly, I don’t know much in the way of Meyer lemon recipes, either, although I’d like to start experimenting with them more, too!
    Klara: That sounds like a really good improvement. Maybe I should cave and get a stand mixer to help beat those whites soon after all!

  13. Alejandra

    I love this combination of orange and rosemary! I absolutely plan to use that sometime soon. What a fab idea! (Bundt cakes, I should note, are an obsession of mine.)

  14. ToastNJams

    I recently made Smitten Kitchen’s gingerbread bundt and it totally got stuck in the pan! I will try this method next time!!

  15. saç kaynak

    it must be so nice together with coffee =))

  16. I love making bundt cakes! What a unique combination of the rosemary and orange. Love it. I’ve been in a baking mood. This will be next on my list!

  17. R @ Learning As I Chop

    Wow, this looks delicious. I love combining traditional baking ingredients with herbs that seem like they belong to savory cooking.

  18. pao

    I made this cake tonight for a dinner party. All my guests LOVED it!
    I used Meyer lemons instead of orange, and went a bit overboard with the zest and juice. So delicious!
    Thanks so much

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  21. Bea

    What a fab recipe! I have a kugelhopf form and wonder if I couldn’t just use it for this lovely cake…I’d say, yes!

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