Orange and Rosemary Cake

Olive oil cakes are a deeply rooted Italian baking tradition. Adding rosemary to a cake might seem a novel idea, but it really does work wonderfully with citrus flavours. You could substitute clementines, satsumas etc depending on seasonality.

This cake is gluten-free and dairy-free; light and moist, and an utter doddle to make.

Serves: 12 or more (depending on slice size)

For the cake:

  • 190ml extra-virgin olive oil (175g if weighing), plus additional for greasing the tin
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs (they should total 320g-340g when weighed in their shells)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (see footnote)
  • 1 large or 2 small oranges: finely grated zest, and juice (see footnote)
  • 300g gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 1 large or 2 small oranges: finely grated zest, and juice (see footnote)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, for decoration


  • A 23cm / 9″ diameter round springform tin
  • Baking/parchment paper to line bottom of tin
  • 1 large and 1 small mixing bowls
  • Citrus grater and juicer
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand); or, a stick blender
  • Spatula or palette knife
  • An oven-safe plate
  • Cooling rack

Making the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Oil the inside of the ring and the bottom of your tin, and line the bottom with baking paper, ensuring the paper covers the join of the ring; very lightly oil the top of the paper as well.
  2. Whisk the oil and sugar on medium speed in a large bowl until very light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking continuously. Add the rosemary, orange zest, and juice, and continue whisking until fully combined and frothy.
  3. In a small bowl, manually stir the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon together with a fork. Briskly stir the dry ingredients into the wet (remember, this is gluten-free so you don’t have to worry about over-mixing; keep as much incorporated air as you can). Your batter will be thin, more like pancake batter than cake.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking, until the centre bounces back springily when lightly touched with your finger.
  5. Cool the cake in the tin on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Run a spatula or palette knife around the ring to loosen, then un-clip and lift the ring, and leave the cake to cool completely on the tin’s base.

Making the glaze:

  1. When the cake has baked, turn the oven off. Spread the orange zest on an oven-safe plate, breaking up any clumps, and place in the oven (door ajar) to dry out as the oven cools.
  2. Stir the icing sugar and orange juice together until fully combined.
  3. Turn out the fully cooled cake onto a serving plate/platter. Pour the glaze over the cake (see footnote), sprinkle over the dried orange zest, and grate some fresh nutmeg over. Sprinkle over the chopped rosemary.

Dried Herbs v Fresh?
I tested this recipe using dried rosemary, and I don’t recommend it. The pine-y aroma of fresh rosemary is really required for the cake to taste as stupendous as it should. Also, dried rosemary doesn’t bake into the batter properly and is too spiky for the topping.

Chop the fresh rosemary as finely as you can, though, as larger bits aren’t nice to bite into.

Oranges / Glaze
For the photographed cake, I used 4 small oranges (2 for the cake, 2 for the glaze), weighing between 175g and 195g each. For a thicker glaze, use only some of the orange juice (mine was more like lemon drizzle, which is what I wanted). There is enough glaze to spoon some over each served cake slice as well.

I’ve adapted Yvette van Boven’s recipe for a larger tin, and to be GF; modified the glaze and added my own twists.


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