Olive Oil Cake

published Dec 14, 2023
Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Make this tender and fluffy olive oil cake at home with ingredients that are already in your pantry.

Serves8 to 10

Prep15 minutes

Cook48 minutes

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Angled shot of a slice of olive oil cake topped with whipped cream.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

Olive oil cake is a classic. This recipe calls for two ingredients that take this cake to the next level: orange sugar and sour cream. The addition of sour cream balances any bitterness from the olive oil, and makes for a moist and tender cake. Meanwhile, a simple orange sugar, made by combining orange zest and granulated sugar, is added to both the batter and sprinkled on top of the still-warm cake. Its flavor works in harmony with the olive oil, making for a superior cake. 

You can make the orange sugar up to a day in advance for an even more intense orange flavor. This recipe is super flexible, so meyer lemons, grapefruit, blood orange, and even regular lemons all make for a wonderful substitute.

Choosing Olive Oil for Your Cake

This recipe calls for extra-virgin olive oil. There’s no need to pick up an expensive bottle here — just using one that you like to cook with is a great starting point! I prefer to use an olive oil that isn’t overly aggressive, as a bit of bitterness can really help bring balance to this cake. In addition to being in the batter, it’s also meant for brushing on top of the still-warm cake. 

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

  • Make the orange sugar. Rub granulated sugar and the zest of one orange together with your fingers to release as much of the oil in the zest as possible, reserving one tablespoon to sprinkle on top of the cake. Then, juice the orange. 
  • Make the cake batter. Add extra-virgin olive oil, eggs, and an egg white to the orange sugar and mix until lightened in color and fluffy. Add all-purpose flour, kosher salt, baking soda, baking powder, orange juice, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until just incorporated and no streaks remain.
  • Bake and finish the cake. Pour the batter into a 9-inch round cake pan at least 2 inches high or a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, then brush all over with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the reserved orange sugar. Let cool completely before serving.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Olive Oil Cake, a Few Tips

  • Brushing olive oil on top is a simple pro tip. When the cake comes straight out of the oven, a key step is to brush it entirely with olive oil and then sprinkle orange sugar directly on top. This gives the cake one last bit of moistness and also helps act as a sort of adhesive for the orange sugar being sprinkled on top.
  • Sour cream makes for a more tender cake. It gives the cake batter a thicker consistency, and has just the right amount of tang that balances out the bitterness and intensity that olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, may bring to the cake. A non-dairy-based substitute can be used in its place, such as a vegan sour cream or possibly coconut milk. Just be advised the batter’s consistency will be different.

What to Serve with Olive Oil Cake

This cake is a great blank canvas and can be served alongside many options. A little whipped cream with sour cream mixed in and a drizzle of that extra-virgin olive oil are both fantastic options. Even some whipped ricotta works great as well! If you want to take it further, a dusting of ground spice like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground fennel, or cardamom is a nice touch. Personally, I like a sprinkle of fennel pollen on top.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Make this tender and fluffy olive oil cake at home with ingredients that are already in your pantry.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 48 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    medium orange

  • 3/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1

    large egg white

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 cup

    sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Generously coat a 9-inch round cake pan at least 2 inches high or preferably springform with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper round.

  2. Place 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Finely grate the zest of 1 medium orange into the bowl. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers to release as much of the oil in the zest as possible, 1 to 2 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the orange sugar for sprinkling, preferably in a warm area. Juice the orange (about 1/2 cup).

  3. Add 3/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil, 2 large eggs, 1 large egg white to the remaining orange sugar. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Beat on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice, 1 cup sour cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until just incorporated and no streaks remain, about 1 minute.

  5. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Place the pan onto a baking sheet.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the cake and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes more.

  7. Place the baking pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the cake to loosen. Remove the sides of the springform pan, or remove the cake from the round cake pan. While still warm, brush the cake all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with the reserved orange sugar. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.