Last week, I hosted our first freshly-foraged DIY wreath workshop at the farm.  I served up winter salads with freshly baked soda bread, spiced mulled wine, and my best snowy white cake all covered in rosemary-mint icing, garnished with herb sprigs from the forest of rosemary growing in front of our house.

….Merry memories were made.

The evening before the gathering, I wandered down to the wood to collect branches of laurel, holly, pine & cedar for the occasion….




 ….and,  set up a wabi-sabi DIY Wreath Bar in my wee little workshop space


The girls arrived, and we played for hours….


One friend decided to make holiday dinner name cards which nestle right into little pine cones…so sweet.


It was a wonderful afternoon which will hopefully be the first of many freshly-foraged workshops on the farm. I was also able to experiment with some of Sony’s new portable lenses for smartphones on the day. The image of the wreath bar was shot using the amazing Sony QX-10 lens which easily attaches to your iPhone or Android and takes endlessly lush images that rival those shot on my big girl camera. In the spirit of gifting, Sony sent me an extra Sony QX-10 lens to give away as a holiday present to a reader of this blog. Simply leave a comment below to be in the draw. I will announce the winner on Christmas Day.  THE WINNER OF THE SONY QX-10 LENS IS CLAIRE KENNEDY, Congratulations! I will email you for your shipping details. 

Snowy White Cake with Rosemary-Peppermint Icing

2 1/4 cups/280g cake or cream flour
1 cup/250ml milk
6 large egg whites
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups/350g granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 sticks/170g unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1. Heat oven to 350f/176c. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans.
2. Pour milk , egg whites, and extracts into medium bowl and mix with fork until
3. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.
4. Add butter (cut into cubes) and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.
5. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.
6. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
7. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes.
8. Allow cake to cool to room temperature, and then ice with rosemary-peppermint icing.

Rosemary-Peppermint Icing

1 cup/227g unsalted butter room temperature
3-4 cups/375-500g confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
¼ teaspoon table salt
1/2 tablespoon peppermint extract
¼ tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp rosemary simple syrup
2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream

1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated
with the butter.
3. Increase mixer speed to medium and add peppermint and vanilla extract, rosemary simple syrup, salt, and 2
tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. You can add more milk or cream as needed.


Slan Abhaile,


Photos by Imen McDonnell 2013. 

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74 Responses to “Foraged Wreaths + Rosemary-Mint Cake”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Hi! I recently found this blog and love your food and pictures. I am going to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday. She’s a January girl and adores peppermint. I would like to do the three tiers as you have it in the photo. Is this single recipe enough to do that? What size are the cake layers? Thank you so much!

    • imen says:

      Yes, you can split the batter into three layers like I did Jennifer! Good luck and have fun =)) x

      • Jennifer says:

        This was a total success for the birthday party! Cake was delicious and baked beautifully – icing was perfect. Got rave reviews from our guests! Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe. This is a keeper!

  2. […] We snipped branches from the olive tree and rosemary in our garden. Then, we made our traditional rosemary-mint cake, this time with chocolate instead of a snowy white sponge. My sister-in-law and her three children came over on Sunday afternoon and we gathered round the […]

  3. Canal Cook says:

    What a beautiful cake, it sounds lovely and perfumed. When I lived at home it was always a tradition for my dad and I to make a big garland from foraged fir and ivy to hang along the banisters in our house. It took ages but we always felt festive after.

  4. WOW ! it looks amazing and I’m sure it tastes better than it looks ….
    Thanks for sharing

  5. An Cailin says:

    I’m too late to say Merry Christmas, but I hope you have a wonderful and lovely new year. And your wreaths and cake are gorgeous, of course.

    -Giselle x

  6. Adam says:

    That is an absolutely gorgeous cake!

  7. Such lovely pictures and what a great idea! Our Christmas table featured lots of pine and citrus, so I especially loved seeing your similar ones above :). Cake looks divine as usual. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!


  8. Jessica M. says:

    What gorgeous wreaths. There’s something magical about Christmas decorations that have come from nature.

    • imen says:

      Thank you Jessica, I totally agree. And, this is all new to me so that makes it even more fun. Happy Holidays x

  9. Emily says:

    I just wish I had a big empty studio space so I could import you to Dublin for this sort of thing! Some day!

  10. Ash says:

    Love all of this! I was so excited this year to pretty much do a DIY Christmas. Gifts, decorations etc. Sadly I did none of it. I was so busy with moving and work that I barely had time for shopping even.
    Hope you a a happy holiday!

    • imen says:

      Hi Ash, this was the first year that things actually slowed down and I could do something special…it was great to take the mind off of the sad events that happened earlier this year. Hope you still had a great holiday and are all cosy and settled into your new place. Happy New Year! xx

  11. Paige says:

    I may be too late for the drawing but I think this is a lovely workshop idea for the holidays!

  12. Claire Kennedy says:

    I would love to win this lens and that cake looks so good, what a fun day.

  13. Sally says:

    Sounds like a heavenly time! Rosemary is my favorite herb.

  14. Nicole T. says:

    A perfect reason for a hike on Christmas morning – I think I’ll wander into the laurels for dinner table decorations. Thanks for the motivation!

  15. Kit Mitchell says:

    A lovely cake recipe-thank you.
    If only I were not an ocean away I would happily skip to your greens workshop!
    Wishing you a Happy Irish Christmas.

  16. Anne Mc Donagh says:

    Rosemary atop a mint-iced cake? How beautiful and wintry and, how very clever of you!

  17. Hi Imen, thank you so much for sharing all your cool ideas.
    It brightens up our day to read about your adventures….
    The purple wellies recently started to document the ‘ going ons’ of our small organic farm and now they want to be in ALL the pictures taken using a phone.
    Ummmm what delight it would be to own our own lense …….
    Keep up the great work and Merry Christmas :-):-) hohohoooooo

  18. Sonya says:

    Lovely post! In 2014, I’ll be spending lots of time on a farm and you’ve given me some brilliant inspiration.
    Happy holidays!

  19. Amanda Paa says:

    How festive! I love it. And I am amazed at how great the picture turned out with the camera phone. I definitely would love to have one. Merry Christmas from across the pond!

    • imen says:

      Hi Amanda! Happy Christmas to you! Yeah, the lens is pretty incredible…it works with wifi technology too…pretty crazy. Thanks for your comment xx

  20. Billy says:

    Lovely post Imen. Lovely pics. Happy Christmas!

  21. Stunning photos & a brilliant idea for the DIY wreaths . Happy Christmas Imen & thank you for your beautiful posts I have really enjoyed them.

  22. Antonella says:

    I wish I lived closer to you so that I could take part in all your workshops!
    Have a very merry Christmas, Imen.
    PS: That cake looks amazing!

  23. Abigail Bell says:

    Oh Imen, that looks like SO much fun!
    Wanted to stop in and wish you the merriest Christmas!
    Always love reading your blog, even though in terrible at commenting often.
    Wish you a beautiful holiday season surrounded by all the tasty things your heart desires! Xo abigail

  24. Julie says:

    Lovely post. It has inspired me to finally get round to making a wreath!

  25. Julie says:

    Lovely post, it has inspired me to finally get round to making a wreath and to put it up!

  26. Beautiful wreaths and delicious-looking cake. Your photos are stunning as always, even with the little Sony gizmo!

  27. Sue Conklin says:

    Lovely pictures! Looks like a fun and yummy afternoon.
    Thanks for the chance to win the lens!

  28. Cynthia says:

    I can almost smell Christmas in you wreath photos.

  29. Thanks for posting the recipe-and the fabu pix of the cake! We shall endeavor to recreate it, for our Christmas Eve celebration!
    Always Lovely photos, and excellent content to go with them…


  30. Maria says:

    So wonderful that you can go out and pick all those fresh greens. What a fun gathering of friends!

  31. Ketty says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time and your cake looks beautiful! Happy Christmas Imen!

  32. Maggie says:

    Gorgeous. But that’s usual with you! xox

    Happy christmas.

  33. Magda says:

    I wish I could be there. I’ve never made wreath myself, but I adore them.

  34. peggy says:

    wow i love your dyi wreath bar! And that cake!

  35. ml says:

    I came across your blog recently and really love your posts. What a lovely afternoon of wreath making – so beautiful! Love the pics.

  36. Kate says:

    Gorgeous! I love using rosemary on winter cakes, it’s instantly festive! Merry Christmas, Imen! X

    • imen says:

      That is a high compliment coming from you…of course I kept thinking “what would Kate think?” lol. Funny how we hold ourselves up to such standards…I adore your work and look forward to that beautiful book of yours in future! Here’s to a fantastic 2014! xx

  37. Molly yeh says:

    Um hello this cake is GORGEOUS. Seriously.

    I honestly can’t thing of a better way to spend an afternoon than by making wreaths and eating winter salad and cake and freshly baked bread. Sigh. Such perfection!

    • imen says:

      Hey Molly, thanks for all of your naked cake support…it didn’t turn out so naked! Would love to do a baking workshop with you! x

  38. Christina says:

    That cake looks so pretty!

  39. Caitriona says:

    You have a workshop space? I’m insanely jealous now Imen. I do everything on my 2ft diameter kitchen table. 🙂

    • imen says:

      Well, Caitriona, it’s more like an unfinished room which I have transformed into my shooting/writing/workshopping space =) I am in awe of your 2ft diameter kitchen table blog feats! Hope you are enjoying the holidays. Drawing later today xx

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