Stracciatella Rosemary Olive Oil Cake, Until Morale Improves

My kitchen and I are still getting used to one another. 

A recent roast chicken came out looking as though it had spent late summer in Saint Tropez without a drop of sunscreen, arriving leathery and suspiciously dark.  Cast iron seems to be the only sensible option for the stovetop.  And I am occasionally cutting burnt edges off broiled toast. 

I’m half tempted to post a threatening sign above my oven that reads: “the cooking will continue until morale improves.”  But then again, I have cake.  Cake has not given me problems. Go figure. 

And—whoa—this most recent recipe is really something.  It came about because I was in the mood for cake (when is one not?), but had frozen butter to contend with. Not one to give up on dessert—and not feeling particularly patient—I downshifted and went searching for a rich, oil-based sweet instead.  A magazine clipping for Kim Boyce’s spelt olive oil cake (with chocolate) was the front-runner.  Until I realized I didn’t have spelt.  Or whole wheat, for that matter.

I found a quick fix in The Babbo Cookbook, which promised a rosemary olive oil cake worthy of a midday glass of wine.  (I took them up on this, and did not regret it.)  So I came up with a compromise between recipes.  Boyce had to pardon the dearth of whole grain, and Babbo had to make room for chocolate.

The result is dessert in perfect harmony.  The rosemary is present, without being overpowering; it offers a nice herbal note that keeps the chocolate in line, but doesn’t fight with it.  Instead of chunks or chips, I shaved off Stracciatella-like shards from a salted almond Taza disk.  This way the chocolate lightly flecks, rather than invades.

To assuage any worried souls that I have been eating very little but cake the past few weeks, fear not.  I have instituted Roast Chicken Fridays.  Wherein I become a tragic soul who stays in, does laundry, reads some Malthusian theory, and vows to continue chicken roasting until the results are decidedly less tanning bed-esque.

Oh.  And I also finish the night in the company of rosemary cake with wispy chocolate bits, and a glass or two of wine.  Because Babbo said so.  And they have yet to do me wrong.

Stracciatella Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from The Babbo Cookbook


butter for the pan
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
2/3 cup quality olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
2 oz salted almond dark chocolate (or other chocolate of finest quality), thinly cut into shards or shaved


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10-inch loaf pan (I used a 10 x 3 inch pan, which is a bit narrower than usual, and had enough leftover batter to make 1 cupcake, as well); set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with a whip attachment for about 30 seconds; add the sugar and whip until foamy and pale yellow.  With the mixer still running, slowly (carefully) add in the olive oil.  Fold in the rosemary.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients (about a third at a time).  Stop once all the flour has been added (it is okay to see bits of flour not yet incorporated).  Fold in the chocolate until the flour and chocolate bits are just combined (do not over mix).

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes; rotate the pan halfway through the cooking.  The cake is done when golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean after it’s inserted into the center of the cake.

Allow to cool briefly in the pan on a cooling rack and then run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake before tipping it out.

-You may want to line the pan with parchment paper after you grease it (and then grease the parchment), to help ease the cake out.  Mine came out in one piece, but it was touch and go for a bit. 

-The original recipe bakes the cake at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.  I did not feel like waiting any longer than I had to.  

-The chocolate I used was 40% dark.  Also this isn't an overly sweet dessert, which makes it perfect as a snack or leisurely light breakfast.


  1. Chicken tanning in St Tropez made me giggle. I'm also always in the mood for cake. And your Friday night of staying in, doing laundry, and roasting chicken sounds exactly like my kind of Friday night! :)

  2. When I first moved into my current apartment it took a lot of time to get to know my kitchen. We had some fights, we made up, we had some really great times, and now I'd say we're good friends. All friends need a break from each other now and then, and so do we, but for the most part we work well together. I hope the same comes for you and your kitchen!

  3. I love olive oil cake though I'll have to pass on the rosemary... for some reason, it's an herb I can't stomach. Tessa Kiros has a great olive oil cake with almonds.

  4. Bianca-I am so glad I have a fellow friend in staying in on Friday nights. (And cake, of course!)

    Sweet Road-Thank you for your kitchen support! It's getting better, with some compromise. ;)

    Sonia-I'll have to check out that olive oil cake recipe, thanks for the tip!

  5. Sometimes kitchens and all the appliances in them rebel. I haven't moved recently, but I've still been experiencing some off days; must be the changing of the seasons. At this time of year, the Russians blame everything that goes wrong on a change in pressure, or "davlenie." It's useful. :)

    As for this cake, it sounds heavenly. I've got a rosemary plant that is flourishing, so bring on the cake!

  6. une cuisine comme je les aime a+