This is an old-fashioned cake that is given a wonderful twist with the addition of heavily-scented rose geranium leaves. Pressing the leaves to the sides of the cake tin gives a fantastic visual effect.
Rose Geranium Leaf Pound Cake
500g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
515g caster sugar
4 large organic, free-range eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of ½ a lemon
18-22 rose geranium leaves (10-12 torn and bruised, the rest left whole for lining the tin)
450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1 tsp bread soda
1 tbsp vegetable oil
icing sugar, for dusting
rose geranium flowers and small leaves, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 165°C/ gas mark 3. Grease a large ring tin and dust with flour.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest and torn rose geranium leaves, and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, a pinch of salt and the bread soda. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the butter and sugar mixture, being sure to start and finish with the dry ingredients.
Put the vegetable oil in a small bowl and briefly dip the remaining rose geranium leaves into the oil to coat. (This will make them adhere to the tin.)
Stick the oiled leaves in a pattern on the inside of the tin, pressing firmly to keep them in place.
Carefully pour in the mixture (try to prevent any mixture running between the leaves and the tin) and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely in the pan before turning out and dusting with icing sugar. Decorate with rose geranium flowers and small leaves.
Extracted from Root to Bloom by Mat Pember and Jocelyn Cross (Hardie Grant, approx €24). Photography © Bonnie Savage.