Cooking the 101 Way

Still on our kitchen counter (or a shelf nearby), a handsome cookbook published in 2007 by Heidi Swanson titled “Super Natural Cooking” seems to open every time to a recipe we feel like trying. The same is true with her blog

olive_oil_cake_recipe.jpgFirst of all, she’s a wonderful photographer. If two foods were being married and you wanted the finest shutterbug still-life artist to capture the moment—cleanly and simply—you’d call Ms. Swanson.

Secondly, she helps you build a pantry AND a repertoire—just the basics first. You can riff off this kind of fundamental knowledge and create your own “jazz” rather than resorting to recipes at all.

Third, she offers up lots of recipes. That may sound a bit counter to the paragraph above, but let’s face it: recipes are good starting points for creating your own variation. Here’s the latest (below) from her blog, which appears to be HER variation of a recipe from one of her favorite bloggers.

Welcome to the sharing economy—although in the food world, this is such a long tradition that almost everyone can remember when their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother wrote down a recipe on an index card and shared it with a neighbor. Bloggers do the same, just minus the cards. Thank you, Ms. Swanson.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

By Heidi Swanson,, adapted from Kim Boyce’s “Good to the Grain”

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

As Kim notes, you don't need to use a specialty olive oil for this cake. But if you have one with a lot of flavor, the cake will be that much better. This is one of those recipes where I think using regular sugar is the way to go. There was plenty going on with the interplay between the rosemary, chocolate, and olive oil - and I'm not sure adding less refined brown or Muscovado sugar would have been the way to go. The last note I'll make is to suggest chopping up a chocolate bar for this. It's just not going to be the same if you use uniform chocolate chips. Aim for big chunks 1/2-inch in diameter, you'll end up with all sorts of shavings and littler pieces as you are chopping, and having that mix of flecks and the big chunks is pretty great. 

Olive oil for the pan

Dry ingredients:

3/4 cup / 3 oz / 80g spelt flour

1 1/2 cups / 7.5 oz / 210 g all-purpose flour

3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Wet ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup / 240 ml olive oil

3/4 cup / 180 ml whole milk

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

5 ounces / 140 g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch


Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan with olive oil. Alternately, I used a long (4 1/2 x 13 inch) loaf pan, and lined it with parchment paper.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit. Sprinkle with the second sugar.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. My cake, in the alternate pan, took closer to 50 minutes. Also, just when my cake was nearly finished baking, I decided I wanted a bit more color on top. I finished it under the broiler for a minute - which caramelized the sugar on top as well and gave it a bit of crunch. Don't walk away from the cake while it is under the broiler.

The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.

Serves 8 -12.

Recipe adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

Prep time: 15 min - Cook time: 45 min

PHOTO: Rosemary Olive Oil Cake from 101 Cookbooks: a natural foods recipe journal, February  17, 2016

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