Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Kim Boyce's Rosemary Olive Oil cake is incredibly moist, golden-crumbed, flecked with rosemary, and dotted throughout with big and small chocolate chunks.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

This is one of my favorite cakes of the past ten years. It's a rustic, incredibly moist, golden-crumbed olive oil cake. Flecked with rosemary, and dotted throughout with big and small chocolate chunks you're looking at a perfect picnic treat. It's one of those cakes that is both distinctive and memorable in an understated way and a breeze to make. We have Kim Boyce to thank for the recipe, and you might remember it from when I originally posted it here after Kim released Good to the Grain in 2010. Olive Oil Cake Recipe

What Makes this Olive Oil Cake Special?

The rosemary is the wild card factor here. And it's so good. It heats up in the oven as the cake is baking and  permeates the cake in a subtle but steady way, not at all overpowering. The other thing I love about this cake is that it is such a breeze to make. You're looking at ten minutes tops to get it in the oven. This is perfect when you're trying to pull things together for a road trip, or picnic, or flight.

Why are Olive Oil Cakes so Good?

There are a number of reasons people love cakes made with olive oil in place of butter. You tend to get a nice, even crumb with olive oil cakes. But, in my opinion, you really see the difference a day or two after baking. Olive oil cakes tend to stay beautifully moist. Olive oil is fattier than butter with no water factor. There's a theory that the percentage of water in butter interacts with the flour in a cake batter to form more gluten strands. This results in a more structured and less tender cake. Olive oil cakes are also great for people who forget to plan ahead. With butter cakes you're often waiting for the butter to come up to room temperature. Not necessary when you're baking with olive oil. Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Tweaks and Variations

I've made a few tweaks to Kim's recipe over the years, and you can see them integrated into the recipe below. Most are stylistic more than anything. I converted the recipe into weights for the scale-based bakers. I also decided I wanted more chocolate visible on top, and a bit of a sugary top crust. What about pan size? I wanted to bake it in a vintage baton cake pan I found in Portland a few years ago (my $1 pan!), and aside from a slightly longer baking time, it was no problem. Feel free to experiment with different pans or muffin tins, but adjust your baking pans accordingly. Olive Oil Cake Recipe

This  one of those perfect picnic, travel, or lunchbox cakes. I can't believe it has been over a decade since I originally highlighted it here, but I love that it is still part of my repertoire. Xo Kim & congrats on the much deserved James Beard Award! xx -h

For more cake recipes, be sure to try this flourless chocolate cake, this chocolate pudding, or for a real chocolate jolt, make these chocolate brownies.

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Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

4.79 from 14 votes

As Kim notes, you don't need to use a specialty olive oil for this cake. But if you have one with a lot of flavor, the cake will be that much better. This is one of those recipes where I think using regular sugar is the way to go. There was plenty going on with the interplay between the rosemary, chocolate, and olive oil - and I'm not sure adding less refined brown or Muscovado sugar helps this cake any. The last note I'll make is to suggest chopping up a chocolate bar for this. It's just not going to be the same if you use uniform chocolate chips. Aim for big chunks 1/2-inch in diameter, you'll end up with all sorts of shavings and littler pieces as you are chopping, and having that mix of flecks and the big chunks is pretty great.

  • Olive oil for the pan
Dry ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup / 3 oz / 80g spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups / 7.5 oz / 210 g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup / 240 ml olive oil
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces / 140 g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan, or equivalent, with olive oil (and/or line with parchment paper).
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit. Sprinkle with the second sugar.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. My cake, in the alternate pan, took closer to 50 minutes. Also, just when my cake was nearly finished baking, I decided I wanted a bit more color on top. I finished it under the broiler for a minute - which caramelized the sugar on top as well and gave it a bit of crunch. Don't walk away from the cake while it is under the broiler.
  5. The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2-3 days.


Serves 8 -12

Recipe adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


This looks great! I was looking for something to bake tomorrow and had not come across anything inspiring until this!!! It is printing out as I write! Thank you! Sarah


Mmm. Olive oil. This must taste awesome, with a good quality, flavourful olive oil. Thanks for the recipe! :) Wei-Wei


what a beatiful recipe!!! I find the combination between chocolate and rosemary so unusual but at the same time so interesting...i want to try this cake as soon as is possible...i want absolutely taste this joining...congratulations also for your vintage cake pan...;-)


Fantastic! Bet your cake was a hit there!

Belinda @zomppa

I recently made a potato rosemary flatbread that this reminds me of - I love that it is a loaf though! Looks great!

Simply Life

Ohhhh this looks sooo good! I love baking with olive oil! I've made some fantastic bread using olive oil that it's so smooth it almost melts in your mouth.

Chocolate Freckles

Olive oil, herbs and chocolate pair superbly!

Vanilla Water

I can imagine how good the texture of the cake s using olive oil. I've been meaning to bake with it.

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams

What an intriguing combo of ingredients!

Christie {Honoring Health}

Aceite, romero, chocolate... excelente combinación de productos. Buena semana


What a unique cake! Very curious to know what the rosemary & chocolate combo will taste like. And I've been sold on olive oil in baking for some time now..


I have made this cake too and really enjoyed it - I thought it was at it's best a couple of days after it was made - the flavours really seemed to meld together so beautifully - I like too, how you have used a loaf type tin..... HS: Thanks Kate, I'll have to make another one at age it a day or two. I can imagine it being pretty great that way, particularly if you under bake it by just a hair to keep things extra moist.


I always enjoy your blog but this is the first time I comment here. I just recently start learning what a blog is. I can relate to you about having a lot of cook books but end up just looking at them instead of trying them. I love the origin of your blog. Please keep great postings coming. I love to try this recipe since I love rosemarry and chocolate. I cannot imagine how it would taste so I should bake one myself right?


Wow! What a unique recipe. I adore rosemary...and chocolate....and can't wait to try this! Thank you so much. By the way, I'm loving your blog, especially your photography. Wonderful....


Thank you for putting the measurments in many forms! Giving us grams helps me to convert to gluten free! I learned from Gluten Free Girl to convert flours based on weight, rather than volume. This cake sounds delish! I think I may have to make it for our annual family trip to San Juan Island for Memorial Weekend coming up!


Heidi, where do you get your spelt flour? I live in the East Bay and looked for it at Berkeley Bowl but they didn't have it, which surprises me since they seem to have just about everything. I was going to use it to make the turnip greens tart but now I have two recipes I need it for! (And if I can't find it, is there another type of flour I can substitute?) HS: Nina, the last time I bought a big bag of it at Rainbow Grocery, but Whole Foods sometimes carries it as well I believe. I think you could substitute whole wheat pastry flour flour in both of these recipes with no problem. Or maybe rye flour, or a multigrain flour mix w/ the tart.


I've been seeing many bread and cake recipes that call for olive oil in place of butter or other fats, but I'm completely intrigued with this one. I would of never thought to add rosemary along with chocolate. This is a beautiful and rustic dessert.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

I just bought Kim's book and love it! I'll try this recipe soon - it sounds very good. P.S. love the bread pan


That sounds like the literary/culinary event of the year!


something so wonderful about more savory cakes combined with sweet ingredients. hearty and yet dainty at the same time!


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