20 July 2018 | Schwartz
By Edd Kimber
Herbs are not that uncommon in baking. We can all think of uses for rosemary, for thyme, for lemon verbena – but oregano is definitely a little more unusual. We all have it in the kitchen, but we don't often vary from its more common savoury uses.
To think how oregano works in a dish you need to think about the role herbs normally play in sweets. They're not usually the main focus but a back note, a supporting player. They’re often paired with citrus to lessen the earthy notes and intensify the citrus notes.
For this cake the oregano is paired with lemon. Think of it in the same way we add vanilla to cakes for another layer of flavour – the oregano isn't the main flavour, it’s about adding depth and interest. It takes a cake like this from being singular and maybe even one note and makes it something more interesting. It adds a wonderful herbaceous flavour that goes fabulously with the lemon.
But a cake is naked without its coat, and for this I have doubled down on the oregano in a blueberry compote sitting atop a white chocolate cream. The result is a wonderful but simple cake, perfect for the summer months.
Oregano lemon cake with white chocolate cream and blueberry oregano compote
White chocolate cream
Start with the white chocolate cream, as it needs to be prepared in advance. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate into a small bowl and pour over the cream. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before stirring it together until smooth and the chocolate is fully melted. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least four hours.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) and lightly grease a deep nine-inch cake pan, lining the base with parchment paper.
To make the batter, place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and whisk together to combine. Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat them together until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the vanilla, oregano and lemon zest and beat for a couple of minutes to fully combine. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully combined before adding more. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, adding the sour cream in between.
Once the cake batter is made, spread it into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
When ready to assemble, remove the cream from the fridge and whisk to soft peaks before spreading it all over the top of the cake. Remove the compote from the fridge and stir gently to loosen slightly, then swirl it into the cream. You won’t use it all, but any leftovers can be served with the cake when sliced.