olive oil cake with rosemary, dark chocolate + roasted hazelnuts

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This is a rather… grown-up sort of cake. The flavours are very interesting and complex. They play off of each other surprisingly well. It’s a nice match with some really good, hot coffee on a dreary fall day (guess what the weather is like right now, just guess). I find olive oil cakes are usually filed under the love or hate column for most people. No in-between or “meh” reactions. I’m obviously a fan of the fruity and unique taste and paired it up with some roasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate and rosemary. If I was gonna go there with the whole olive oil thing, I wanted to go all the way.

The cake turned out so tender and buttery. I used all whole grain spelt flour with a good amount of almond meal to make things interesting. I find that it adds really nice textural elements to cakes and cookies, like super crunchy edges and biscuit-y qualities. So good. Once you get a bite of that crisp and nutty edge with a little nugget of roasted hazelnut and a creamy dab of dark chocolate… oh boy. You can make almond meal at home too! If you have a food processor, blender or coffee grinder, you’re all set. Just be careful to not let ‘er rip too long. Hello accidental almond butter! That wouldn’t be so bad…

I didn’t use a terribly expensive oil for this since I needed a whole cup of it. I imagine the more delicately nuanced varieties might lose some of their subtlety once mixed into a batter with sugar, flours, chocolate, rosemary etc and baked for 45 minutes. Reach for the in-store brand and all will be well.

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olive oil cake with rosemary, dark chocolate & hazelnuts
adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
serves: makes 1 nine inch cake
notes: All spelt flour would work just fine if you don’t have almond meal. You can leave the rosemary out too if you aren’t feeling super adventurous :)

dry mix:
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup natural sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
3/4 tsp fine sea salt

wet mix:
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (or dairy milk, whatever you like)

100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, peeled and chopped roughly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Place a circle of parchment onto the bottom of the pan and grease that as well.

Sift the spelt flour into a large bowl. Dump any remaining bits of grain in the sifter into the bowl. Add the almond meal, sugar, baking powder, rosemary and sea salt. Whisk to combine.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, olive oil and milk together thoroughly. Pour the wet mix into dry mix in the large bowl. Carefully stir and fold mixture together with a spatula until just combined. Fold in chocolate and hazelnuts.

Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth out the top. Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out of the center part clean. Allow to cool thoroughly before removing from the pan and serving.

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  • Amanda26/10/2011 - 7:43 pm

    I am definitely in the LOVE column when it comes to olive oil cake. This one just shot to the top of my must make list!ReplyCancel

  • catharine31/10/2011 - 5:23 am

    your blog is amazing….I too love olive oil cake and will have to find some time to give this one a try! On a side note. Your food photography is exquisite!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey (Happyolks)03/11/2011 - 10:12 am

    I love olive oil in baking. It gives cake that needed sophistication and nuance I think. Love it. Going home to visit my parents for the weekend, I’d love to make this for them.ReplyCancel

  • Vegan Bakerista08/11/2011 - 12:11 pm

    yum! i;m going to try and make this today. i’ll let you know how it goes! i love the idea of chocolate, hazelnuts and rosemary. three of my favorite flavors!ReplyCancel

  • Vegan Bakerista08/11/2011 - 12:14 pm

    p.s. I added you to my blogroll!


  • I made this last night—absolutely heavenly! I accidentally baked mine for too long, so a note to others to be very watchful if you have a fussy oven like I do, but even being a bit crisp, it was still rich and delicious. And you’ll have a new reader; one of the friends I had over to share it with is a big food blogee, and she was very excited to discover I had a new go-to blog. : )ReplyCancel

  • Laura12/11/2011 - 12:02 pm

    Raechel, so glad you made it and enjoyed it! I actually really love slightly over-baked treats with almond meal. So crunchy and awesome. Go-to blog! That’s too cool :)ReplyCancel

  • Millie03/12/2013 - 3:05 pm

    Just found your blog and everything looks amazing! :) do you mind checking mine out please?ReplyCancel

  • Meggie22/01/2014 - 1:23 pm

    I’m super late to this party, but I just made this cake and really loved it! The flavors are definitely interesting, and for someone with an insatiable sweet tooth, this cake gave me my 3pm chocolate craving but kept me from eating the entire thing with its slight hint (or maybe strong suggestion?) of savory elements. Mine ended up very moist and delicious and notably crumbly-I tried to cut it and serve to family but it ended up in a bowl surrounded by forks, and no one complained. Thank you for this recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Jane01/03/2014 - 3:37 am

    I just made these as little mini cupcakes and subbed the hazelnuts for almonds (as we have a hazelnut allergy in our family)… they are just about the most delicious little morsels I’ve ever tasted. Thank you so very much for your beautiful photographs and recipes, they’re brilliant.ReplyCancel

  • Emily12/02/2015 - 12:51 am

    I’ve never made an olive oil cake before… so I’m not sure what the consistency should be. I made this today and it tastes delicious, but I’m unsure if I’ve cooked it for long enough. I cooked it well over the time and my cake testing skewer comes out of the cake clean, but it does feel extremely moist/even a bit undercooked.
    Is this cake supposed to be very moist and sticky? Or should it be more similar to a regular cake?

    It tastes really yummy!! Just not sure whether to put it back into the oven or not.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright12/02/2015 - 8:18 am

      Hey Emily, this cake is quite moist, but if yours seems undercooked I would go ahead and just bake it longer. The oven I was working with when I developed this recipe tended to run a bit hotter, so my baking times always seemed slightly shorter than they should be. I hope this helps!

  • jenny26/08/2015 - 4:15 pm

    should there be eggs in this recipe?ReplyCancel

    • Laura28/08/2015 - 8:12 am

      Almost all of the recipes on my site are vegan, so this one is no exception. If you wanted to use eggs, you could replace the applesauce with 3 whole, large eggs (lightly whisked together).

  • Marie16/01/2016 - 1:20 pm

    This is my very most favorite olive oil cake EVER, in the history of the world ever. It used to be my go-to treat when I’d have friends over for coffee or afternoon tea. (Did I tell you how much I love this cake?!) Here comes the ‘however’ part. Since I last made it, I have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Bummer in some ways, YAY! in others. So, what would you suggest I sub the spelt flour with? (I also found out I am allergic to almonds, so almond flour is right out.) If you had some ideas on how I can get back to enjoying this oily, fragrant chunk of cake LOVE, I would be forever in your debt.ReplyCancel

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