Serves 6-8

I have been baking olive oil cakes for years. I often make them for my kids’ birthdays—they are excellent for rainbow layer cakes and sturdy for decorating, and they also freeze well. (I always have homemade cakes in the freezer for my kids’ school lunches.) If you are a lazy baker like me, olive oil cakes are essential to have in your repertoire. Oil is much more forgiving than butter, and helps keep cakes moist. I like to use a fruity extra-virgin olive oil for a stronger taste, but use a lighter oil if you prefer. I adore the richness of this cake—the delicate savory undertones pair so elegantly with the herbaceous rosemary and zesty citrus. Feel free to omit the rosemary if you want a plainer finish. A simple yet impressive cake for all occasions.


Family book cover showing dishes of food surrounded by author Hetty… Family by Hetty McKinnon
  • 1 cup (230 g) superfine sugar

  • Zest and juice of 2 small oranges

  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup (250 g) Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup (250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 cups (250 g) self-rising flour

  • Confectioners’ sugar, to dust 


Orange: lemon or mandarin

Extra-virgin olive oil: light olive oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil



Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F (160 ˚C). Line a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with parchment paper. 

Add the sugar, orange zest, and rosemary to a bowl and, using your fingertips, rub everything together until the sugar is fragrant and damp. Add the eggs and whisk until pale and thick. Beat in the yoghurt and orange juice, then gradually whisk in the olive oil. 

Sift the flour into a large bowl so it’s lovely and aerated. Slowly pour in the wet ingredients and, using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold everything together until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. When cool and ready to eat, dust with confectioners’ sugar. 

Recipe excerpted from Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day by Hetty McKinnon, published by Prestel 2019.

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