Rosemary, chocolate, and olive oil. It’s an amazing combination of flavors that I first came across several years ago in Kim Boyce’s “Olive Oil Cake” from her inspiring and innovative cookbook, Good To the Grain. It’s also a combination that I’ve used before for a favorite brownie recipe which one of these days I’d like to re-do as grain-free. But more to the point, let’s talk about this cake.
The grain-free version of this cake came about after being inspired by a recipe I saw on Instagram for a gluten-free olive oil-based cake. After that I pulled my copy of Good To The Grain off the shelf and spent an afternoon calculating proportions of liquids to grain-free flours, writing in the thick wire-bound notebook I use for recipe development using my own slow, round-a-bout math skills and quizzing my husband when I got stuck. It took me a few hours, but it also saved me from making endless test batches, and the grain-free version worked well on the first try.
As any obsessed baker knows though, until you reach that moment when you know you really nailed the recipe, there’s a little voice in your head that keeps pushing you to tweak something and try it again. As I was prepping the ingredients to bake the cake for these photos, heeding the voice in my head, I subbed some arrowroot flour for some of the cassava flour, carefully mixed and poured the batter in the pan, and thirty minutes later had a grain-free olive oil cake that looked like a winner. Yet the real test is in the eating, so after taking photos for this post, I waited to eat a piece of the cake for dessert after dinner. It was completely worth the wait, and my husband and I agreed-it was indeed a mighty fine cake.
Don’t let the grain-free label deter you from trying this, because it’s a great cake by any standard, and is very easy to pull together. If you don’t have a 9-inch round fluted tart pan, you can also use a 9-inch round standard cake pan. As for the flours, many major grocery chains carry coconut flour and arrowroot flour these days, such as those in 1 pound bags from Bob’s Red Mill. I also recently purchased a 4 pound bag of this coconut flour for a great price at my local Costco. Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour can be ordered online on their homepage. The “find us” link on their home page will also help you locate stores in your area that may carry the flour. Once you’ve got your ingredients in hand, I suggest that you whip this up without disclosing that it’s grain-free to your family and friends, and then sit back and enjoy the satisfaction of changing people’s minds about grain-free baking.
- DRY INGREDIENTS:
- 54 grams/1.9 ounces/1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 34 grams/1.2 ounces/1/4 cup + ½ tablespoon cassava flour
- 34 grams/1.2 ounces/1/4 cup + ½ tablespoon arrowroot flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- ⅜ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, reserving ¼ teaspoon to sprinkle over the top of the cake batter
- WET INGREDIENTS:
- 150 grams/5.3 ounces/3 large eggs, room temperature, whisked until frothy
- 114 grams/4 ounces/6 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
- 156 grams/5-1/2 ounces/3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 180 grams/6-1/3 ounces/3/4 cup coconut milk
- 106 grams/3-3/4 ounces/2/3 cup extra dark chocolate baking chips (I like Guittard's), lightly chopped, or dark chocolate bar chopped into small pieces, reserving a tablespoon or two to sprinkle over the top of the cake batter
- One 9-inch round fluted tart pan or 9-inch round standard cake pan
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with butter or olive oil. If using a standard cake pan, see notes below.
- Measure dry ingredients together in a bowl. Whisk briefly to combine. Add finely chopped rosemary, reserving ¼ teaspoon to sprinkle over the top of the cake batter. Whisk again to distribute throughout dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly until frothy. Add maple syrup, olive oil, and coconut milk. Whisk until combined.
- Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until mixture is well combined and begins to thicken a little as the flours absorb the moisture. Stir in chocolate, reserving a tablespoon or two to sprinkle over the top of the cake batter after poured into pan.
- Spoon batter into greased tart pan, distributing with a spatula until evenly spread throughout the pan. Sprinkle reserved chocolate and mixed rosemary evenly over the top of the cake batter. Carefully put the pan into the oven on a rack in the middle position of the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the center of cake is domed and the edges are golden brown, and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cooled, remove outer ring of tart pan by pressing up from the bottom. Carefully remove bottom of tart pan from cake, and place on serving platter. Cut into 8 slices and serve.
a. Aerate the flour. Use a spoon to stir and lift the flour in its container so it isn't densely packed down.
b. Use the spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup, overfilling it so the top is rounded.
c. Level the rounded top with the flat side of a knife.
• If you have a problem with the cornstarch in store-bought baking powder, you can make your own cornstarch-free version. Just mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, and store in an airtight container. Use within 2-4 weeks.
• If you use chocolate chips instead of a chocolate bar, although it may seem redundant to lightly chop up chocolate chips, I do that to create some extra chocolate shavings that add a little extra chocolate flavor when the chocolate is stirred into the batter. I prefer using Guittard's which is certified gluten and soy-free.
• If you don't have a 9-inch tart pan and instead are using a standard 9-inch cake pan without a removable bottom, line the cake pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom. Be sure to butter or oil the interior bottom and sides of the cake pan before adding the parchment paper, then put the parchment paper in place. This secures the parchment paper and keeps it from moving around when you add the cake batter, and the parchment paper will help the cake release much more easily once completely cooled. There is no need to butter or oil the parchment paper as it is already non-stick.