Lemon-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

20 minutes prep 20 minutes active cooking 40 minutes total
Makes one 8" or 10" cake layer

Alicia Kennedy writes about food, but she’s not a food writer.

At least not in the traditional sense. While food may be her subject, she puts what we eat into a broader cultural, political, and human perspective. As she said in an interview published online by the Creative Independent, “I realized I could no longer write in this tone where I don't take everything seriously. How things taste, how we cook them and the joy we take in that is so important, but that can't be the only thing we talk about.”

Subscribe to her newsletter and read about everything from the history of corn to the negative impact of capitalism on the quality of our food to the problem with celebrity chefs to how eating oysters helped her deal with grief. All of her work is written with the direct honesty that marks the best writing no matter the genre.

And since the best food writers are also good cooks, Kennedy includes missives about what she’s making and eating. She once worked as a vegan baker and now lives in Puerto Rico without ready access to many animal-based ingredients stateside cooks depend on, so she knows how to get familiar flavors and textures using simple substitutes. Her lemon rosemary cake is a good example. You probably have everything you need in your pantry already. Just start cooking.

You can read more of Kennedy’s work on her website, and her book, No Meat Required: The Cultural History and Culinary Future of Plant-Based Eating, comes out in August. Order it here.

What You'll Need


For the shopping list

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary (dried or fresh)
  • 100 grams of cane sugar
  • 290 grams or 1 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (about 2–3 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 210 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

From our shop

88 grams of  Novo Frantoio
$27.00– Tuscany - Italy
1/2 teaspoon of  Italian Fine Sea Salt
$7.00– Trapani - Sicily


From the kitchen

  • parchment paper
  • immersion blender
  • scale
  • mixing bowls
  • whisk
  • measuring spoons

What you'll have to do

Step 1 — Grease cake pan and line with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 2 — Using an immersion blender or even just a fork, stir up the lemon zest and rosemary with the sugar until the zest and rosemary are well distributed.

Step 3 — In a large mixing bowl, add the flavored sugar, milk, lemon juice, olive oil, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.

Step 4 — In another mixing bowl (medium or large), whisk the dry ingredients: flour, starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour into the wet ingredients and whisk until a thick batter forms with most lumps smoothed.

Step 5 — Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Step 6 — Let cool, then dust with powdered sugar or a glaze made with 150 grams powdered sugar and the juice and zest of one lemon whisked in.

Recipe and all images courtesy of Alicia Kennedy

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