Serves a Crowd

Roberta's Parsley Cake

March 11, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 12 to 14
Author Notes

If we can put rosemary in our frozen yogurt and thyme in our cookies, there's nothing stopping parsley from treading over the line. You can even make this very green cake for St. Patrick's Day, with your pride intact and nothing artificial in play. It's festive and shamrock-forward, but also a bright spot at the end of a dense, salty meal. Adapted slightly from Roberta's Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2013) —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 150 grams (4 cups tightly packed, from about 5 bunches) parsley leaves
  • 30 grams (1 cup tightly packed, from 2 bunches) mint leaves
  • 165 grams (3/4 cup) good olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 290 grams (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) cornstarch
  • 7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) kosher salt
  • 8 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 330 grams (1 2/3 cups) sugar
  1. To make the herb-oil mixture, put a fourth of the parsley and mint in a strong blender or food processor, and blend it on low speed. Use a blender stick to help crush the herbs while the blade is spinning (or stop the machine from time to time to push the herbs back down toward the blade). Slowly increase the speed to medium (or a steady puree, in a food processor) and continue adding the rest of the herbs until you have added all of them.
  2. In a steady stream, add half of the olive oil. Mix on medium-low speed (or pulsing, if using a food processor) until all is combined. Add the remaining olive oil and blend for no longer than 10 seconds. The mixture will look loose and stringy. Scrape out the blender to get all of the parsley mixture, transfer it to a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on high speed until the mixture is very thick and turns a pale yellow color, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the herb-oil mixture.
  5. With the machine still running, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into a container and refrigerate it for at least 6 and up to 24 hours (the cake will turn out much greener than it would if you baked it right away).
  6. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 340°F and lightly oil a sheet pan -- ideally a 13- x 18-inch for a thin cake but 11 3/4- x 16 1/2-inch will work with a slightly longer baking time (at Food52, we used a 10- x 15-inch jelly roll pan). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. Pour the batter into the sheet pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, rotating the cake halfway through. If the top begins to brown before the inside of the cake is done, turn the heat down to 330° and let it cook a couple of minutes longer. When a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, it's done. Let it cool in the pan.
  8. To serve, tear serving-size squares of cake into a few larger pieces and divide them among individual plates. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream and lemon zest. Alternately, eat warm with butter for breakfast.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Julia Berstein
    Julia Berstein
  • Emily Ferrario
    Emily Ferrario
  • Suji Lam
    Suji Lam
  • Rebecca A. Goodrich
    Rebecca A. Goodrich
  • janecf
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

36 Reviews

Richard C. August 10, 2022
When I first saw this recipe in the Genius Desserts book I at once knew it was a brilliant stroke. I couldn’t wait til summer and planted extra parsley just for this recipe. When it finally came time I could only make a 2/3 recipe as I only had 100 grams of parsley To spare, and baked it in a 9x12 quarter sheet pan. It was so delicious and unique that the four of us gorged ourselves silly with it and some strawberry ice cream. I ended up making this with coconut oil instead of olive oil and it held up well, but you must bring the oil/herb portion to room temperature as it has a higher melting point. I will certainly make this again and share it with anyone willing to listen.
Shinta O. March 11, 2021
Excellent cake. Dense, moist and flavorful. I used gluten free flour, and baked it in three 8-inch round pans.
Slux September 13, 2020
Surprisingly delicious - we found this nice and refreshing. I didn’t have mint, so substituted in lemon and lime zest. Next time I’ll try it with a bit less sugar, and perhaps some cream cheese icing. Yum! Don’t discount it because parsley cake is a strange concept - try it first!
Slux September 13, 2020
Surprisingly delicious - we found this nice and refreshing. I didn’t have mint, so substituted in lemon and lime zest. Next time I’ll try it with a bit less sugar, and perhaps some cream cheese icing. Yum! Don’t discount it because parsley cake is a strange concept - try it first!
Andy G. March 19, 2018
This worked well -- I used all the mass measurements and the flavor was good; the batter fills two 9" rounds perfectly, if you were wondering. I chose curly-leaf parsley because it supposedly has the milder flavor.

Here are some photos:
Julia B. February 24, 2018
how far in advance can one make the herb oil, (can one freeze it?).
also, thoughts on grapeseed over olive oil?
Brenda August 6, 2015
I made this cake and it was beautiful; looked just like a moss covered forest floor.
Emily F. June 2, 2015
I cannot wait to make this cake! When I saw it my mind went straight to some fairy and troll land with beautiful moss covered on everything. I could get really creative with this
Suji L. May 3, 2015
Word to the wise: Do not make this recipe unless you have a scale handy! I generally have no problems making delicious cakes from recipes that use volume measurements, but this cake was a mess. I followed the 4:1 parsley-mint ratio and ended up with a cake that is so strongly flavored that it is not palatable. It's certainly not a like a strawberry cake where more is better. I'm so sad that I trusted this recipe enough to make it full-scale; I don't if it's salvageable at all.

My advice if you still want to give it a try: 1) Err on the side of caution and use less parsley & mint than the recipe calls for and 2) try a small sample batch first.
Bascula March 22, 2015
I made this last night (baked this morning). From my nibbles I would say I like it! I would, however, reduce the amount of sugar as I found it to be too sweet. Will try freezing some; I see no reason it wouldn't keep in the freezer. It sure was a lot of work picking all the leaves off the parsley though...
Rebecca A. March 16, 2015
Does this cake freeze well?
janecf October 6, 2014
This was delish! Minty and not too sweet. Related to my question, I ended up using two 9x13 pans for one recipe and that worked great.
Linda Z. August 30, 2014
I am intrigued . I am trying to stay away from the white stuff so will try with coconut or another flour and stevia. What do you think??
SweetTooth July 24, 2014
Great recipe! I have to admit, I was a little dubious at first about how these would turn out after tasting the batter before baking them. But, they are fabulous! I get a lot more of the mint than the parsley (which is fine with me). I ended up using Italian parsley (only needed about 2 larger bunches) and did not let them rest in the refrigerator. They're still quite green enough for me. Also, the cupcakes would still be good by themselves or with ice cream, I made a simple buttercream to go on top and I think that was a good call. I will definitely make these again!
ghainskom June 10, 2014
I was determined to make this cake even if I had to eat it alone, since I didn't expect anyone in my household to like it. Well, big mistake. This was a hit with kids and adult guests alike. A keeper!
Lynn May 13, 2014
Has this recipe been adjusted for high altitude (Denver)? If not, how would you adjust it?
Hilma May 11, 2014
baked this twice already and it's fantastic , once baking straight away and once leaving it for 12 hours . TBH could not see much difference in colour, but I would suggest taking the batter out of the refrigerator and warm up to room temperature before baking -I did not and needed to bake for almost 8 additional minutes...
Girl I. May 7, 2014
This is brilliant! I'm yet to visit the try the original, but already I'm looking at this cake & thinking I get to try a piece foodie heaven. Yes I use all those other herbs, so I definitely need to try the parsley soon too!
Toni W. March 24, 2014
I made this last week and absolutely loved it. I'm not a big fan of sweets so the flavor was just perfect, and the texture was wonderfully light. My kids/husband devoured it, so I'll definitely be adding it to the favorite food roster.
Lisa March 24, 2014
Hmmm....I pride myself on liking just about everything, but this cake would be the exception. While it was a gorgeous color, I found the mint taste overpowering (even though I used less mint than it required) and since nobody in my house would eat it after the first bite, tossed the rest out. I tried it with whipped cream, but maybe I needed a frosting to mellow out the strong herbal flavor.