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Orange, Olive Oil, and Rosemary Cake

Servings: 6 to 8

A syrup of macerated orange segments and a dollop of crème fraîche embellish this rustic cake, a nod to the Sephardic desserts of Italy and Spain. Olive oil gives the cake’s crumb a pleasant hardiness and is one of Hanukkah’s primary symbols: Cooking oils are meant to star in the meal.


For the syrup

  • 2 large navel oranges (about 1-1/4 lb.)
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

For the cake

  • 3/4 cup olive oil; more for the pan
  • 8 oz. (1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. (about 2 heaping Tbs.) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 2/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 oz. crème fraîche (about 1/4 cup); more for serving
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 1 sprig
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Make the syrup

  • Finely zest the oranges (for about 1 packed Tbs.), and reserve for the cake batter. Using a knife, shave off the oranges’ skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut between the membranes to remove the segments, dropping them into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes, and add to the segments (about 3/4 cup total). Set aside.
  • Combine 1/3 cup water, the sugar, and rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. The syrup will be fluid, not thick. Remove from the heat, and stir in the reserved orange juice and segments. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the cake

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan with oil, fit the bottom with a piece of parchment, and oil the parchment.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), beat the 3/4 cup oil, sugar, eggs, crème fraîche, finely chopped rosemary, vanilla, and reserved zest until well combined, about 1 minute. In three stages, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed. Whisk just until the batter comes together. It will be very thick.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread the mixture evenly. Lay the sprig of rosemary on the center of the cake. Bake the cake until lightly brown at the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, and cool until slightly warm.
  • Run a paring knife around the perimeter of the cake to separate it from the pan. Set a plate on top of the cake, and flip it over (remove and discard the parchment). Then flip the cake back onto the rack, and set it over a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Spoon all of the syrup—but not the orange segments—over the cake. Serve the sliced cake topped with a spoonful of the orange segments and a dollop of crème fraîche.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • bessieheath | 12/05/2020

    This cake got mixed reviews in our house. My family enjoyed it, but I did not. I felt like it was a bit flat, somehow. Like it needed a bit sharper flavor. Texture was nice with the corn meal in there and the olive oil.

  • User avater
    HungNWalker | 04/24/2019

    Really wonderful flavor cake recipe.

  • kungfukaren | 12/10/2018

    This recipe will absolutely become a new Chanukah tradition in our family. Fabulous, moist, flavorful cake. The rosemary-infused oranges and creme fraiche on top took it to the next level -- will make extra oranges to top each slice even more generously next year.

    Thanks, Mr. Rosenfeld!

  • User avater
    MaryMDefeo | 12/05/2018

    It is too yummy!

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