Olive oil cake is a scrumptious dessert with a light yet incredibly moist crumb, and a fantastic indulgence to serve with coffee or espresso. Kissed with the flavor of sweet citrus from a touch of fresh orange and lemon zest, plus a drizzle of orange liqueur, my olive oil cake recipe is the perfect afternoon treat or elegant finish to a special meal!
A Sweet Mediterranean-Inspired Dessert
Rich, golden, fruity olive oil is a staple in my kitchen, and probably the oil that I reach for the most in my cooking.
I go through quite a lot of extra virgin olive oil on a weekly basis, and use it in everything from my homemade salad dressings, to my soups and entrees, to simply drizzling it over toast in place of mayo or cream cheese.
I love the flavor of good olive oil, and deeply appreciate the wonderful health benefits that it brings, seeing it as a bit of an “elixir” with a lovely, almost magical essence.
And while many of us use olive oil in savory dishes, it is actually a common ingredient used in sweet treats in Italy and the Mediterranean region in general, where much of the world’s olive oil is produced and flows plentifully.
Olive oil cake is a fairly recent recipe “discovery” for me, as far as preparing it in my own kitchen is concerned, though I've been super curious about the flavor and texture of this lovely delicacy for quite some time...
With these sunnier months now at hand, the notion of enjoying a fruity, light, moist, and fragrant cake, which speaks of the natural sweetness of the season, just sounded so incredibly inviting to me.
So I got to work on developing an olive oil cake recipe that hits all the flavor notes that I was looking for.
The result is an incredibly aromatic cake, one that deliciously beckons with its sweet scent from across the kitchen as it sits in its serving plate, with a texture that is at once dense yet somehow incredibly light, utterly melting away on the tongue.
This olive oil cake has become one of our favorite cakes, as we found ourselves unable to eat just one slice…
So be forewarned, this cake is truly that good.
Absolutely magical with a strong cup of coffee or an Italian espresso, a slice of this olive oil cake is heaven-on-a-plate, and the perfect afternoon pick-me-up or dessert course for a special dinner—so simple, yet utterly elegant!
My Recipe for Olive Oil Cake with Rich, Fruity Flavors
The basic components of an olive oil cake are quite similar to that of many other cakes, but instead of using butter or traditional vegetable oil as the fat component, rich, fruity, and flavorful extra virgin olive oil is used.
Olive oil innately adds a fantastic and unique flavor, and offers this lovely cake a deep yellow hue—so pretty!
In doing a bit of research, I found myself drawn to versions of this cake that were sweetly “perfumed” with citrus notes, so I added both orange and lemon zest, as well as their juice, to my recipe.
I also like the idea of a touch of citrus liqueur for a slightly sophisticated note, and opted for a splash of orange liqueur (Grande Garonne) to deepen those sweet, citrusy notes.
Here's a sneak peek at my olive oil cake recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started I whisk together my dry ingredients and set those aside to have ready.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, I mix together the sugar and eggs until pale and thick, then drizzle in my olive oil and continue to mix until well blended. Then, I add in my zests and juices, plus my orange liqueur, and mix those in to combine.
- Next, I add my dry ingredients into my wet and mix to blend, followed by some milk, and mix to incorporate until the batter is completely smooth.
- I bake my olive oil cake in either a 9” spring form cake pan or a regular 10” cake pan (greased and lined with parchment) for roughly 45 to 50 minutes.
- Once cooled, I simply dust the top of the olive oil cake with powdered sugar, and serve on its own, or with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
Olive Oil Cake
by Ingrid Beer
This olive oil cake has a delicate and moist crumb, brimming with the rich flavor of fruity olive oil plus a kiss of sweet citrus!
Yield: Serves 12
Nutrition Info: 382 per serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 42 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 2 minutes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of orange juice
- ¼ cup orange liqueur (I use Grande Garonne)
- 1 cup whole milk, room temp
- Powdered sugar, for dusting over cooled cake
- Whipped cream, optional garnish
- Berries and/or mint, optional garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 350°, and line either a 9” spring form cake pan or a 10” regular cake pan with a parchment round, and spray with cooking spray.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium size bowl, and whisk to blend. Set aside these dry ingredients for a moment.
- To a large bowl, add the sugar and the eggs, and using a hand mixer (or a whisk), blend these together for a couple of minutes until they become pale and thickened. Next, slowly pour in the olive oil, and continue to mix to incorporate that in.
- Add in the lemon and orange zests, the lemon and orange juices, as well as the orange liqueur, and blend those to combine.
- Next, add the flour into the wet ingredients, and mix just until blended. Then, add in the milk, and blend just until the batter is a smooth consistency (it will be a loose batter, which is fine).
- Pour the batter into a 10” cake pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes (or, if using a 9” spring form pan, then roughly 48 minutes), or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove it and allow it to completely cool on a wire rack before dusting lightly with powdered sugar, and serving garnished with whipped cream and berries, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Olive Oil Cake recipe:
- Good quality, extra virgin olive oil for flavor: The unique and fruity flavor that is innate to olive oil cake is best experienced by using a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Avoid the light colored, refined olive oils if possible, as those will not impart the same rich flavor and yellow color. Look for a nice, deep golden yellow colored extra virgin olive oil, one with mild, fruity flavor rather than green, “grassy” notes.
- Orange and lemon, for a sweet citrus note: I really love the combination of both lemon and orange with this cake, but you can certainly use just one, if you prefer. I tend to appreciate a more orangey flavor in this cake, and allow that to dominate a bit. But if you'd like to taste more lemon, use less orange, or use all lemon instead.
- Sweet liqueur, for deeper flavor: One of my favorite orange liqueurs is Grande Garonne, and it works really nicely in this olive oil cake. But feel free to use Cointreau, or Grand Marnier, or even substitute limoncello, instead. You can omit the liqueur if you prefer, and add in 2 tablespoons more of both lemon and orange juice to make up the ¼ cup of liqueur.
- 9” spring form, or 10” regular cake pan: If you'd like a taller, thicker cake, the 9” spring form will allow for that as it is a deeper pan. For a cake that is not so tall, opt for a 10” regular cake pan, to allow for all of the batter to fit without overflowing.
- Garnishes for olive oil cake: I typically will just lightly dust my cooled olive oil cake with some powdered sugar, then slice and serve. But for a more fancy presentation, you can serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the side, along with a few fresh berries or slice of citrus.