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Olive Oil Cake with Orange & Rosemary

Updated: May 26, 2023

A whole orange, boiled and blended into a batter... intrigued? So were we! This is a wonderfully moist and fragrant, gluten-free cake which has endless flavoring possibilities!

Slice of olive oil cake with orange and rosemary syrup

This recipe may sound a little unusual at first, but bear with us, please. We don’t share recipes that we don’t wholeheartedly believe in! This Olive Oil Cake with Orange & Rosemary is gluten free, using a combination of almond flour and polenta for the base. And that’s not the weird part, neither is the olive oil!

A whole boiled orange is blended into the batter to keep it wonderfully moist and fragrant. By whole I mean the inside, outside, all of it. Sounds crazy? I thought so too when I saw a version of this on BBC’s Good Food, but I promise you, you’ll be boiling and blending citrus fruits for all your citrusy cakes from now on!

I made this as the ‘grown-up cake’ for an afternoon gathering and it was polished off by the kids — enough said! xoxo Kirsty

Overhead shot of olive oil cake with orange zest and rosemary sprigs

Olive Oil Cake with Orange & Rosemary (makes 12 servings)


  • 1 orange, preferably organic

  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice, preferably organic

  • 200 g ground almonds

  • 120 g polenta

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 225 g sugar

  • 225 ml olive oil


  • 100 g sugar

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1/2 orange, juiced

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme; or 1” sliced ginger or 4 cardamon pods, lightly cracked

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) water

  • pinch of salt

*If you don’t feel like making the glaze, this cake is just as delightful with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Just make sure the cake has fully cooled or it will absorb all the sugar and it won’t look as pretty!

Bring a pan of water to the boil; it should be large enough to comfortably fit the orange. Place the orange in the pan and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid slightly askew. Remove from the water and allow to cool slightly. Quarter the orange and remove any seeds, then transfer to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice and zest and blend until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale for 3-4 minutes. While beating the eggs, drizzle in the olive oil slowly in a steady stream. Once combined, add the orange purée and whisk.

Fold in the dry ingredients, until it comes together in a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes until the top bounces back with a gentle poke, leaving no indent.

Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully turning it out onto a wire rack. While it’s cooling, make the syrup.

For the syrup, combine the sugar, orange and lemon juice, water and salt in a pan. Bring to the boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then add the rosemary (or other flavouring). Turn off the heat and set aside for at least 30 minutes so the rosemary can infuse. Use a sieve to strain out any herbs or flavorings.

With a long skewer poke holes randomly in the top of the cake, then pour over the syrup. Allow it to set for a few minutes before slicing. This is delicious with a dollop of creme fraîche or Greek yogurt.

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