Basil and lemon cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

by Gypsy and the Botanist

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So with a couple of 38+ degree days here in Sydney, I think it’s fair to say that summer is finally here in all its glory. Today was one of those days, and admittedly, I almost didn’t bake. But in my morning watering of my balcony garden, I saw that my little basil was flowering. With the basil in its prime, and some beautiful local lemons I picked up the other day, today was the day.

Basil is a favourite herb of mine, it’s sweet and earthy. But it’s mostly used in savoury dishes. After a cocktail I had last summer, I had been thinking about this cake idea for a while.  The sweetness of basil sings of summer. And I thought the zesty lemon would give this sweet herb a refreshing backdrop.



200g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g plain flour, sifted

2tsp baking soda

4 eggs

200ml full cream milk

handful of torn basil leaves

2 lemons, zest and juice

1 vanilla bean

A couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt


Cream cheese frosting

150g unsalted butter, softened

200g full fat cream cheese

250g icing sugar

1 vanilla bean

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Preheat the oven to 180C. Roughly tear up the basil leaves, and place it with the milk over heat, and bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stand aside to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy for approximately 4-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, and then the vanilla bean. Beat in half of the flour and baking soda, then half the yoghurt, and half the milk and basil mixture. Beat in the lemon zest and juice. Beat in the remaining flour, yoghurt, and milk and basil mixture.

Pour the cake batter into greased and lined round cake tin, and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

For the icing, beat the butter until creamy, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla bean, and beat for approximately another 2-3 minutes. Add the icing sugar gradually, and continue to beat for another 2 minutes, or until smooth.

When the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Decorate with lemon zest.



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