Rosemary Citrus Cake with a Honey Frosting

It’s that time of the year again.
The time of the year when you’re sitting at home comfortably, the weather outside looks kinda romantic with its golden, red and brown leafs whirling down from the tree branches. The sun rays peek through the white and pink clouds, and shine their light on the birds who’re singing their lovely autumn songs. And just when you set foot outside to breathe in the fragrances of the fresh breeze and the lovely smell of the newly arrived season, BOOM! All hell breaks loose in the skies. The rain starts pouring and the sun disappears into a black hole of raging thunder and lightning. Better get back inside if you don’t want your underwear to be soaked through.

I hate to say it, but summer’s definitely over right now, and it’s not coming back for a while. So what better way to celebrate months of staying inside, spending lots of quality time with your tv and wishing for summer to come back, or at least for the holidays to come soon so that you can start opening presents already, than to say: ‘Heck, I’m eating a spring dessert today! And if I don’t mess up or eat the batter before it is cooked, it is going to be a Rosemary Citrus Cake with a Honey Frosting!’.
So time to put on your gummy boots, head into the garden and start picking some fresh rosemary. Or if you don’t have fresh rosemary, do as I intended to do until my mom reminded me that there were things actually growing in my backyard. Keep your gummy boots on, and go to the shop to go and buy some.



  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely (about a big handful of rosemary stalks)
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon zest (from about 6 lemons)
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 275 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 240 ml unsweetened coconut milk

Lemon curd

  • 120 g lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Honey frosting

  • 250 g cream cheese, on room temperature (I used Philadelphia)
  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 70 g honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 – 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 150 g powdered sugar


  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 175°C and butter two 20 cm round springforms. Line the bottom of the springforms with parchment paper, butter the parchment paper and flour the entire pan. Gently tap out any excess flour.
    Chop the rosemary very finely and combine it with the lemon zest and sugar. Use your fingers to rub the rosemary and lemon into the sugar until moist and fragrant. Add the butter and beat the mixture with a mixer until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    Alternate adding the flour mixture and coconut milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour and only beating until each addition is just combined. Afterwards, divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake the batter for 30 – 35 minutes or until the cakes are golden and when you put in a toothpick, it comes out clean. Remove the cake pans from the oven and allow the cakes to rest in the springforms for about 15 minutes before removing them. They have to be completely cool before adding the filling and frosting.
  2. Lemon curd filling: Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, eggs and egg yolks in a saucepan, over low heat. Add the cubes of butter and stir until the butter has melted. Then turn up the heat to medium and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and takes on an almost pudding-like consistency (this can take a couple of minutes, so be patient 🙂 ).
    Place a mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl and when the curd is done strain it in the bowl. The mesh strainer will catch egg whites that might have been cooked during the cooking process.
    Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface off the curd to prevent “skin” from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Honey frosting: First of all, it’s very important that all ingredients are at room temperature to prevent the frosting from curdling. I had to do the frosting twice before it was right, because I made the rookie mistake of putting in my butter cream and butter too cold; so please learn from my mistake!
    So, beat the cream cheese and butter together with a wooden spoon, until well combined. Add the honey, rosemary and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and beat to combine. Gradually add the powdered sugar in a few additions, and whisk well.
    If the frosting looks to thin, slowly add some more powdered sugar, and if it looks to thick, than add some more lemon juice. Note that the frosting you want is somewhat thin but still spreadable.
  4. Assemble the cake: Place 1 cake on a serving plate and spread about 1/4 of the prepared lemon curd over the entire surface. Then place the second layer of cake on top of the curd. Spread the frosting over the top layer and the sides of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for about 5 hours or overnight. When served, garnish with fresh rosemary if desired.

Some notes that might be important for you to read before you start making this cake:
– To state the obvious, don’t start putting in entire branches of rosemary in the cake batter. You’re only gonna need the “leafs”, and not the stalks. Oh, and if you use rosemary from your own garden (as I did), you might wanna wash it thoroughly. Especially if you have cats, if you know what I mean. I think you know what I mean. 🙂
– Don’t throw away the excess lemon curd! It’s delicious to eat with the cake, or on waffles, etc.
– You can also assemble the cake differently. Cut both cakes horizontally in half and spread a thin layer of curd on three of the halves. Then place the four layers on top of each other and spread the frosting over the top layer and the sides of the cake.
– Oh yeah, to be fairly honest. I’m not a huge coconut fan. I actually don’t like the taste at all, but in this cake it’s almost impossible to distinguish the coconut flavor and not like it a tiny bit. So for my fellow coconuthaters, don’t worry and bake the cake!

And here it is! A “light” and fluffy masterpiece in all it’s beauty with perfectly distinctive layers and a lovely look, if I may say so myself.
lemon cake 2

This cake serves up to 8 portions or more & stores for about 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator, or 3 days outside of the fridge.

Photo’s taken by myself and edited by my recently graduated brother Jesse. Applause.

Spelling check by redhead Eliza & a special thanks to my garden for growing herbs.

Inspiration and original recipe from:


3 thoughts on “Rosemary Citrus Cake with a Honey Frosting

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