My Olive Oil Cake has a pleasant olive oil flavor bolstered by fresh citrus. It’s a light and beautifully plush cake that’s perfect for snacking! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Must-Try Spring Cake
Introducing my new favorite spring cake: olive oil cake!
This cake is the perfect after-dinner treat for those of you looking for something sweet but not too sweet. It’s a tender, plush cake (no frosting necessary — it’s not often you’ll hear me say that) that has a light olive oil flavor accented with a squeeze of citrus.
A sprinkle of granulated sugar on top gives us a crisp, candied topping that’s a nice textural contrast to the ultra-plush cake (and it’s way more fun than your typical powdered sugar dusting).
While most cake recipes recommend a neutral oil like canola or vegetable (like my yellow cake), today’s recipe capitalizes on the robust taste of extra virgin olive oil to create a uniquely flavored cake. The olive oil isn’t overwhelming, but it is noticeable so 1) choose an olive oil with a pleasant flavor, and 2) if you don’t like olive oil, you might want to skip this one!
I took a page from my sour cream pound cake recipe, and decided to whip the egg whites separately before folding them in to our cake batter. Why this extra step? I promise I’m not having you dirty extra dishes for nothing.
Olive oil tends to make the cake a bit more dense, so adding whipped egg whites will lighten things up to create a beautiful texture. The resulting cake is still dense (not as dense as a pound cake), but it melts in your mouth. You are going to love it!
What You Need
Look at that, less than 10 ingredients! It’s simple and classic. Here are a few ingredients worth paying some extra attention to:
- Olive oil. While the olive oil taste in this cake is subtle, I do recommend using an extra virgin olive oil with a flavor you enjoy. More on this below.
- Lemon. Citrus pairs so beautifully with olive oil! I use lemon in today’s recipe, but you could substitute orange or really any other citrus. You’ll need the juice and the zest from your fruit.
- Eggs. We’ll be separating our eggs today so we can whip the egg whites separately. Make sure that you don’t let even a tiny bit of yolk mix in with the the whites, or they won’t whip properly. As when whipping egg whites for macarons, it’s important the bowl you whip them in be clean, dry, and grease-free.
- Milk. I like using whole milk here for best results. Another milk could work, but I can’t guarantee the cake will be as moist if you make a substitution.
- Sugar. Regular granulated sugar goes in the cake, while coarse sugar is sprinkled on top. If you don’t have coarse sugar, granulated will work fine for the top too.
SAM’S TIP: This recipe works best with room temperature eggs. Forgot to set yours out? Follow the tips in my post on how to quickly bring eggs to room temperature!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Olive Oil Cake
- Separate your eggs, placing the egg yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. .
- Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. When finished, they’ll be thick, voluminous, and fluffy, and if you lift the beater straight out of the mixture, the peak that forms should hold its shape and not fold over or sink back into the mixture. Set this aside.
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar, oil, and lemon zest for 1-2 minutes, you want everything well-combined.
- Stir in the milk and lemon juice with your mixer on low speed.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture. I do this part by hand, an electric mixer would run the risk of over-mixing the batter at this stage.
- Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter until fully combined, but do not over-mix! Over-mixing could leave you with a too-dense and dry, possibly even rubbery cake, so use a gentle hand and a spatula to incorporate the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into a springform pan and sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.
- Bake on a foil lined baking sheet for 55-65 minutes at 325F. The foil lined baking sheet is simply for extra security, not all springform pans are created equally and if yours leaks, you want the cleanup to be easy! Test the cake for doneness with a wooden skewer.
- Let the cake cool completely before removing the springform ring and slicing.
SAM’S TIP: Be gentle when folding in your whipped egg whites! After spending time whipping them up to stiff peaks, the last thing we want to do is deflate all that air.
Frequently Asked Questions
Olive oil has many nutritional benefits, and it’s less processed than vegetable or canola oils. Because of this, you could say this cake is a “healthier” alternative to a traditional vanilla cake made with canola oil; however, keep in mind this is still cake and meant to be a treat!
This cake has a light olive oil flavor accented with citrus notes. It’s not too sweet, making it perfect for brunch or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee.
Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil that you like the taste of. For me, this is a nice olive oil from my local grocery store, but if you have a fancier EVOO you like (maybe even a citrus flavored one!), feel free to use it here!
Would you be interested in seeing a chocolate olive oil cake? Surveying the crowd to determine if I should indulge my inner urge to make everything chocolate. Let me know in the comments!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Olive Oil Cake
- 4 large eggs yolks and whites divided (room temperature preferred)
- 1 ¾ cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (157ml) (157 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ cup (118 ml) whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 2 Tablespoons (25 g) coarse granulated sugar may sub regular granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C). If your springform pan is not non-stick, lightly spray sides and bottom with baking spray.
- Crack eggs, separating the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and the egg whites into a clean, dry medium-sized mixing bowl.4 large eggs
- To the large bowl with the egg yolks, add sugar, olive oil, and lemon zest. Use an electric mixer (or stand mixer) to beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes, batter should be uniform and well-combined.1 ¾ cups (350 g) granulated sugar, ⅔ cup (157ml) (157 ml) extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually stir in milk and lemon juice until combined.½ cup (118 ml) whole milk, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- Use a spatula to gradually fold the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture, until combined.
- Use an electric mixer (with clean, dry beaters) to beat your egg whites to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Use your spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the batter until completely combined (do not over-mix).
- Pour batter evenly into 9” springform pan. Sprinkle all over with coarse sugar.2 Tablespoons (25 g) coarse granulated sugar
- Place springform pan on a foil-lined baking sheet and transfer to center rack of 325F (160C) oven. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cake to cool completely before removing the ring from the springform pan and slicing and serving,
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. This cake also may be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.