Each March, I bake my favorite uncle a cake for his birthday — but this year, I was at a total loss about what to make. It had to be transportable (he lives an hour away) but also unique. That's when I remembered a special cake that I'd tried awhile back.

"This is going to sound weird," a friend told me when she'd brought it over, "but this cake is made from olive oil and rosemary, and it'll blow your mind." She was right!

The earthiness of the rosemary, nutty olive oil, and bright citrus elements really complement one another. The refined cake turned out to be perfect for his understated birthday celebration. Enjoying a piece is like eating a sliver of sunshine. Read more for the recipe.

Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Cake


  1. 1 cup orange juice
  2. 1 teaspoon fine salt
  3. 3 large eggs at room temperature
  4. 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  5. 1-1/2 cups sugar
  6. 1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  7. 1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
  8. 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  9. 2 teaspoons anise seed
  10. 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  11. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  12. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  14. 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for garnish
  15. 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Oil two 10-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt, stir, and let cool.
  3. Lightly beat eggs on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add milk, sugar, Cointreau, olive oil, reduced orange juice, lemon zest, anise seed, and chopped rosemary. Mix for 1 minute until well-blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder until smooth.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into each oiled cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
  5. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and flip over on a plate.
  6. While the cake is still warm, use a sifter, fine sieve, or mesh colander to sprinkle powdered sugar lightly and evenly on the cake.
  7. Garnish each cake with a rosemary sprig. Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 2 cakes, or about enough for 8 people.

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