This is one of my favorite cakes for the past decade. It's a rustic, incredibly moist olive oil cake with a golden crumb. Sprinkled with rosemary and covered with chocolate chips, large and small, see yourself as the perfect picnic treat. It is one of those cakes that is both distinctive and memorable in an unobtrusive way, and can be made in a jiffy. We have Kim Boyce to thank for the recipe, and you may remember when I originally posted it here after Kim released Good to the Grain in 2010.
What makes this olive oil cake special?
The rosemary is the wild card here. And it's that good. It heats up in the oven as it bakes and permeates the cake in a subtle but steady way that is not intrusive at all. The other thing I love about this cake is that it's so easy to make. You're looking for ten minute tips to get it in the oven. This is perfect when you're trying to bring things together for a road trip, picnic, or flight.
Why are olive oil cakes so good?
There are a number of reasons why people love cakes made with olive oil instead of butter. You tend to get a nice, even crumb with olive oil cake. But in my opinion you can really see the difference a day or two after baking. Olive oil cakes tend to stay nice and juicy. Olive oil is fatter than butter without the water factor. There is a theory that the water content in butter interacts with the flour in a cake batter to make more strands of gluten. This results in a more textured and less tender cake. Olive oil cakes are also great for people who forget to plan ahead. With butter cakes you often wait until the butter has reached room temperature. Not necessary if you are baking with olive oil.
Optimizations and variations
I've made a few changes to Kim's recipe over the years, and you can see them incorporated into the recipe below. Most are stylistically more than anything else. I turned the recipe into weights for the scale based bakers. I also decided I wanted to see more chocolate on top and a bit of a sugary crust. What about the pan size? I wanted to bake it in a vintage baton cake pan that I found in Portland a few years ago (my $ 1 pan!), And aside from a slightly longer bake time, it wasn't a problem. Feel free to experiment with different pans or muffin tins, but adjust your baking pans accordingly.
This is one of those perfect picnic, travel, or lunch box cakes. I can't believe it's been over a decade since I originally highlighted it here, but I love that it's still part of my repertoire. Xo Kim & congratulations on the well-deserved James Beard Award! xx -h
For more cake recipes, be sure to try this flourless chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, or for a real chocolate bump, these chocolate brownies.
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