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


I've slowly been working my way through this book. love everything i've made so far, and two things i haven't made are this cake and those cookies you mentioned! will give both a try and report back when i do it!!

heather @ chiknpastry

Heidi, Thanks so much for sharing your special tweaks on the recipe. I must vouch that it was indeed very tasty and super moist. It was wonderful to meet you and Kim, and the potluck was outstanding. I look forward to another one. Take care and happy baking, Alison

Alison @ Beets and Biscuits

Thank you for adding measurements in grams too! So helpful :) Must try this recipe this weekend :)


This cake is now next on my list to try from the book. Love olive oil cake, but rosemary and chocolate sound like an interesting combination I never would have thought of. Sounds (and looks!) great Heidi.


So inspiring, thank you KIM, i have the book! and thank you HEIDI for your special "minor tweaks" which makes everything always so perfect. Sunshine from Paris to you all.




What a wonderful idea to celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend. The rosemary in the farmers markets in NYC has been fabulous over the last few weeks! Heidi also if you get a moment, I'd love to celebrate more of your healthy living recipes and fun at It would be a pleasure to introduce you to the community. - noelle

JuicyNoelle (

I am definitely going to try this recipe- anything that makes use of the herbs I am growing is helpful. I haven't seen the book you made it from, but I will definitely check that out- sounds like you had a serious carb-fest, but to me that is like a dream come true!


Here Here to Leslie C's idea of a milk substitution! Perhaps coconut milk? Would love to see more recipes using non-dairy, non-soy milk substitutions. Your coconut chocolate pudding recipe is DIVINE btw. Look fwd to trying this one out if we can sort the milk issue. :)


I may have to change my plans for tonight from doing chores to BAKING THIS CAKE! I bought some spelt flour recently and have been thinking what to use it on first. This should be perfect!


I just have to say this is my go to recipe site. EVERY single thing I have made my family (including kid) has loved. I cannot wait to make this, the rhubarb crumble and that pappardelle pasta!

Laura Thoel

Do you think it possible to substitute for the whole milk for those of us who can't have milk? I'm not sure with this recipe if a milk substitute would get the same results, given that they are mostly either nut or grain with some water and sweetener. I often use hazelnut milk in substitutions...


This recipe sound really interesting. I love olive oil based cakes and spelt flour. It sounds a bit funny though because I always flavour my roast potatoes with olive oil and rosemary, and they are a bit sweet, so I am imagining to cover them with chocolate.. not so exciting :) Anyway, I want to give this cake a try: do you think that dried rosemary might work there, or is it one of the places where you have to go for the fresh one? Thanks!


Wow! Chocolate, rosemary, olive oil...what a fascinating combo!

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

My cake is now in the oven! I can't wait to taste it. As per my usual method of an olive oil cake, I used greek yogurt instead of whole milk. Will this be OK? As always, the beautiful and wholesome simplicity of your work is heart-warming.

Katharine @ agirlinmadrid

So jealous you got to meet Kim! (And that you got to try over 20 baked goods.) Good for you. Can't wait to see the new book cover!

the French

Haven't tried spelt flour yet, but I see you use it a lot. I thought it was mostly for gluten intolerance, but I guess in this case it's for texture since you use regular flour too? Did you attend a lecture on sustainable seafood at the aquarium? Would have liked to have heard that one. HS: All the different grain flours bring a different flavor, texture, etc to whatever it is you're baking. I think many people like spelt flour because it is considered wheat-free. It's a nice flour to bake with as well. Re: the conference, we heard a lot about sustainable issues related to seafood - which I don't eat - and food production on the whole. The damage overfishing has done to our oceans is shocking. I can't think of another word to use. For those of you who do eat seafood, have a look at these tools/resources provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, there are aps, and pocket guide that can help improve your buying decisions.

Lentil Breakdown

Hi! I've been visiting your blog for a while and I like it a lot:) This recipe looks delicious. I have a pot of rosemary on my sill so I think I'll try it. The addition of spelt flour and olive oil makes it more healthy. I wonder how it would look like in a tart pan. Doesn't it taste more like a sweet bread? Greetings from Poland! HS: Hi Buncia - it's definitely cake. Nothing bready about it.


Thanks for the heads up about Kim's upcomign signings! Your cake looks grand.


This looks divine. I’ve never attempted to make a savory cake, but I think I may have to soon!


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