A Lovely Lemon Cake from the Girl & the Fig

Cake so good that you'll make time to make it asap.

Meyer lemons. Rich olive oil. And heady rosemary.

All in one moist, flavorful cake that’s a California take on a Mediterranean classic.

One bite will have you transported to a white sandy beach by a crystalline blue sea.

That’s how good it is.

“Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze” is from the news self-published  cookbook, “Plats du Jour” by Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of the popular Girl & the Fig restaurant in Sonoma, which serves up French country cooking with California sensibilities.

The book, of which I recently received a review copy, is full of recipes from the restaurant’s popular three-course “Plats du Jour” menu offered each Thursday evening, which incorporates the freshest seasonal ingredients. Cook a menu in its entirety or mix and match as you desire.

This simple cake couldn’t help but catch my eye, now that my backyard Meyer lemon tree is groaning with ripe fruit. You also can use Eureka lemons, too. But Meyers are less tart and more floral, making them especially wonderful to bake with.

The olive oil lends a grassy lushness. Vanilla bean and extract add roundness. And the rosemary gives a slight savory, piney quality that is irresistible.

The recipe says to bake the cake for 30 minutes. But I found it took almost twice that time in my oven, which is gas. So, just monitor your cake diligently to be sure it’s fully baked.

After the cake cools and is inverted onto a serving plate, it’s drenched with a thin glaze made of powdered sugar and a whole cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Feel free to serve with dollops of softly whipped cream or creme fraiche.

And to indulge in seconds — because when it comes to this cake, resistance is just plain futile.

Simple, yet stunningly good.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze

(Serves 8 )

For the cake:

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and set aside

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

For the glaze:

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

For serving:

Creme fraiche or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper to fit.

To prepare the cake: Beat sugar and eggs together in a mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and rosemary. Continue to mix for 1 minute. Pour batter into baking pan.

Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides, 30 minutes or more, depending on your oven. Le the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool right-side up on a wire rack for 2 hours.

To prepare the glaze: In a small saucepan, cook lemon juice and powdered sugar over medium heat and stir until smooth. Let mixture cool slightly, then pour it over cake.

To serve: Slice cake in 8 wedges. Put a slice of cake on a plate and add a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Wine Pairing: Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, France; Bonny Doon “Vinferno,” Late Harvest White Blend, California

Adapted from “Plats du Jour” by Sondra Bernstein

More Lemon Recipes: Martha Stewart’s Sausage, Chard and Lemon Lasagna

And: Saveur’s Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

And: Lemon Walnut Biscotti

And: Emily Luchetti’s Lemon Squares

And: Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade

And: Preserved Lemons

Print This Post


  • I have to try this cake! I still have never baked an olive oil cake, but it’s been on my list to try. I cannot get enough of lemons right now so this is really speaking to me. πŸ™‚

  • I love the combination or lemons and rosemary! It reminds me of summer but unfortunately we don’t have a lemon tree (nor do we have a yard). Lucky you! I’ll have to try this recipe!

  • What an amazing cake! I really have to try that flavor combination.



  • Oh my goodness I am so excited to make this recipe like now!! I love love love Meyer Lemons!My post today is on still being able to have fresh herbs this time of year. I have Rosemary still in abundance and our son and daughter in law just brought me some Meyer Lemons the other day.I think I have everything else so I am ready to start baking! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  • WOW– If only I were a decent baker… Can I just buy this from you instead??? πŸ™‚

  • What a pretty yet simple cake. Olive oil and lemon are always welcome in desserts.

  • Mmmm, that looks soooo good! I love Meyer lemons, and the olive oil is healthy for you, right? Better than butter. I love your photo of the finished product. Looks like you’re practicing with lighting your shots too, huh? πŸ˜‰ Nice job!

  • Wow, your cake looks wonderful! I still haven’t decided what cake to bake for my own birthday (in a few days) and this looks wonderful. πŸ™‚

  • This cake looks wonderful! Love the combination of flavors – olive oil, lemons and rosemary are great together.

  • Thanks for sharing the book with us, is sounds fantastic! And that cake — wow, what a beauty!

  • Looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it.

  • My jaw just dropped when I saw that cake with lemon slices on top. How beautiful and vibrant! Oh my!

    Wish you the best of 2012, Carolyn!

  • Wow this cake sounds amazing and with white wine – how unusual! I’ve never eaten at her restaurant but I will definitely check out her cookbook and make this recipe.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Ben: You flatter me. The truth is that I am such a clod with lighting that my photos just come out however they do. LOL Glad you liked ’em, though.

  • I want to have a piece! It’s a beautiful cake. I love the lemon glaze. Citrus flavor is so perfect!

  • I’m OBSESSED with the combination of meyers and rosemary lately so this is happening. ASAP.

  • looking forward to trying this one out. yum.

  • This looks beautiful and delicious! Do you use the Lowel Ego Lights for your photos? They are wonderful!

  • Mercedes: I do use those lights. They are a lifesaver, especially when you have to take photos on a dark winter night. πŸ˜‰

  • my first thought was that lemon and rosemary together in a cake would be iffy at best. my second thought was that i’m a fool and that it actually sounds really delicious!

  • I had exactly two Meyer lemons from my trees this year. The unstoppable squirrels got the rest before they were ripe. This cake is how I should have used those two lemons, but I’ll happily get more from the grocery store for this.

  • LisaIsCooking: I had a smaller than usual crop of Meyers this year, too. I thought it might be the weird weather we had last year. But now that I read your comment, I’m thinking the culprits might be squirrels, too. Ack.

  • MMMMM,…what a stunning & tasty looking lemon cake! It is huge too! πŸ˜‰

  • Pingback: Food Gal » Blog Archiv » Not Diet Food

  • Pingback: Bizcocho de aceite de oliva, romero y naranja

  • I made this cake and the amount for the pan was way too much! it escaped out of the pan and the cake did not bake through! I put the glaze on and soaked it! Kind of soft inside but still yummy! What did I do wrong????

  • Hi Donna: Oh no! The batter will nearly fill the cake pan. Mine, however, did not overflow. It did rise to above the top of the baking pan while in the oven, but later sunk down a bit after fully baked. Mine also took longer to bake than the recipe indicated. When I compare my cake to the photo in the cookbook, I would say that mine is definitely taller. So it could be that the recipe is a little off in the amount of batter that it makes. I would say that you should either bake the cake longer (mine took almost twice the indicated time) perhaps with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any overflow OR fill the pan a little less and use the remaining batter to make a few muffins. Hope that helps. Glad you enjoyed the flavor, nevertheless.

  • I made this for the first time to take to a wine tasting picnic today, and it earned rave reviews. With the olive oil, white wine, lemon and rosemary components we were all but transported to Tuscany!

    The batter seemed far too abundant for my pan tool, so I scooped quite a bit out and baked it in a smaller round pan I had on hand. That cooked perfectly in the allotted time, but the other, fuller one, took far longer and ended up both sagging and soggy in the middle despite my best effort to toothpick test it effectively. Pretty sure it was an issue with my oven though, and from having opened the door to check and retrieve the smaller one as the larger cake was still trying to find its footing. Fortunately the smaller one was perfect, and just the right amount for a small sweet nibble at the end of an indulgent afternoon. Decorated with a twist of lemon peel, and a couple of blooming sprigs of fresh rosemary, it was both delicious and a thing of beauty. Thanks for yet another great go-to recipe, Carolyn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *