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Extra virgin olive oil, rosemary cake and Brachetto 🍷

This cake is one of my husband’s favourites and this year he asked me to make it for his birthday. It’s not exactly what you would normally choose for a birthday but it’s what he wanted, so…why not? The two key ingredients – rosemary and extra virgin olive oil – recall the smell and the flavours of Mediterranean food, a feast for the senses. I have used a very special extra virgin olive oil, which we buy directly from the producer Frantoio Coletta. This family-owned oil producer is based in Abruzzo in Central Italy, but they can deliver abroad and I usually buy from them a 20 litre supply at a time. This marvellous EVO is one of my aces up the sleeve as it can turn any dish into something special. The rosemary was from our garden, where we have a luxuriant rosemary bush. Despite being native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary thrives in colder countries like the UK. This simple cake with olive oil and rosemary can be very versatile: it’s perfect for breakfast or as a dessert, and it is delicious as a special treat at any moment of your day.


  • 50g plain flour
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3. Butter a 20 cm round tin (I have also used baking parchment for the bottom of the tin) and lightly beat the eggs. In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, almonds and sugar.

With a knife or ‘mezzaluna’, finely chop the rosemary. Wash the lemons and prepare the lemon zest using a grater.

Add the oil, eggs, rosemary and lemon zest to the dry ingredients. Mix together until smooth. Then pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. When removing it from the oven, leave the cake to cool in the baking tin. I served it with fresh raspberries (but any berries would work) and a fresh sprig of rosemary.


Based on the unusual ingredient of rosemary in a cake, I recommend a sweet and sparkling wine, with a twist: Brachetto D’Aqui.

This is the only Italian DOCG that has all of the following characteristics in a single wine: 

1. native grape

2. produced from a red aromatic sweet grape

3. fermented with the Martinotti method (Charmat- find out more about this method here:,generates%20pressure%20as%20the%20carbon)  

4. Mono variety grapes (produced from just one type of grape, not several combined)

It is produced in the Piedmont region, between Asti and Alessandria, and is an intense red sparkling wine with aromas of red fruit, fresh and elegant, with good persistence.  It does not withstand ageing well so it must be consumed  within two years of production and served at 8-10 degrees.

I recommend the Pineto of the Marenco winery, year 2019. Perfect for Rita’s cake, and ……. very good in itself !!!

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