Spring feast recipe: Lemon, Rosemary & Olive Oil Cake

20 March 2024

The flavor combination behind this springtime dessert — a sweet, lemony cake featuring a hint of rosemary — may sound surprising, but food writer Lidey Heuck, who learned to develop recipes from working with Ina Garten for more than six years, asks for your trust.

“If I’m making this for a special occasion, I dress it up with a pile of segmented oranges on top. But for an everyday treat, I skip the citrus and let the cake sit on the counter, watching it disappear — sliver by sliver —until there’s nothing left. How you serve it is up to you!” Heuck writes in her new cookbook, “Cooking in Real Life: Delicious & Doable Recipes for Every Day.”

Lemon, Rosemary & Olive Oil Cake

Serves 8 to 10


1 cup (230 grams) extra-virgin olive oil

2 (4-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs

Nonstick cooking spray and flour for the pan

1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup (160 grams) sour cream

Grated zest of 2 lemons

1/3 cup (80 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for greasing the pan

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or confectioners’ sugar, for serving

3 small oranges — Cara Cara, blood oranges or the variety of your choice — for serving (optional; see tips below)


In a small skillet or saucepan, combine the oil and rosemary sprigs. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the rosemary begins to sizzle, then turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes, then discard the rosemary sprigs and pour the oil into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray (see tips below), line the bottom with parchment paper, then flour the sides.

Add the sugar to the bowl with the rosemary oil and whisk until combined. Add the eggs and whisk vigorously until thick and glossy. Add the vanilla, sour cream, lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk gently until only small lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the edges of the cake are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve the cake at room temperature, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or a sprinkle of confectioners sugar and the orange segments, if using. Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tips: It’s important that your cake pan be at least 2 inches deep. This is a tall cake and will overflow in shallow cake pans. A springform pan works, too. To segment oranges, peel the oranges with a small, sharp knife, removing all the white pith. Cut carefully between the membranes to remove the orange sections.

— Excerpted from COOKING IN REAL LIFE: Delicious & Doable Recipes for Every Day. Copyright @ 2024 by Lidey Heuck. Photography Copyright © 2024 by Dane Tashima. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, and imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

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