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Chocolate, olive oil & rosemary cake


A comforting loaf cake peppered with flecks of rosemary and chunks of chocolate and which uses olive oil instead of butter. The rosemary and chocolate are an unexpectedly subtle pairing, which I adore. This is a less sweet cake, almost fudgy, with a delicate herbal back-note. It’s so good that, if I got married again, I’d have it as a layer in my wedding cake. It's an old favourite from my Guardian column. You can use a standard olive oil here; it doesn’t need to be extra virgin. It pairs wonderfully with rosemary, but I have also made this by nestling a few bay leaves in the top of the batter instead. You could also replace the rosemary with orange zest or the seeds from a vanilla pod. To make it vegan, omit the eggs and milk, and use sparkling water instead.

1 hour
1kg loaf


  • 300g light spelt or plain flour
  • 125g golden caster or light muscovado sugar
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 organic eggs and 150ml milk or 150ml sparkling water
  • 250ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, needles only, finely chopped
  • 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
  1. Prep

    Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

  2. Whisk dry ingredients

    Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a good pinch of sea salt into a large bowl and use a whisk to mix together, making sure there are no lumps.

  3. Whisk and fold

    In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and mix. Now fold the oil mixture into the dry ingredients, gently mixing until just combined, but no more: for a light cake, don’t overmix.

  4. Or for the vegan cake

    If you want to make a vegan cake, instead of using eggs and milk, add the olive oil and rosemary to the flour mixture, and whisk again. Add the sparkling water, gently mixing until just combined, but no more: for a light cake, don’t overmix.

  5. Finish with the chocolate and sugar

    Stir in most of the chocolate pieces. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Scatter over the rest of the chocolate, pushing the pieces down a little into the mixture so they are half covered, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar for a crunchy finish.

  6. Bake

    Bake for about 40 minutes, or 45 minutes for the vegan version, or until it is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack.

Additional information

As featured in

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