Olive Oil Cake

December 23, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

Olive Oil Cake – a classic Italian and Mediterranean favorite! Made with rich extra-virgin olive oil which produces an incredibly well moistened, flavorful cake. One of the most delicious desserts you’ll make!

Photo of slice of olive oil cake decorated with whipped cream, raspberries and rosemary. Shown on a decorative red plate.

The Best Olive Oil Cake

This tempting cake is truly one of my favorites! It’s what I plan to make for Christmas because we love it so much.

In a way the flavors are reminiscent to that of pound cake, but with a delectable olive oil infused flavor all it’s own (rather than butter flavor). Then the cake is fluffier with a texture closer to a classic birthday cake.

The recipe includes bolder olive oil for great taste, cake flour for a light and fluffy texture, fresh lemon for an added background flavor, and it’s finished with toppings of choice.

Or you can just eat it plan because it’s just that good!

I personally prefer pairing with fresh fruit or a fresh fruit sauce and whipped cream. Sometimes you’ll see it sprinkled with a few tablespoons granulated sugar before baking, or other times recipes will add a frosting (such as lemon or mascarpone) or a simple glaze (such as lemon or vanilla) after it is completed.

Lots of options to finish or even just use powdered sugar for a pretty and delicate, snowy finish.

It’s a simple, humble cake that doesn’t need much. Yet it’s a cake that never disappoints! A classic dessert that’s truly worthy of your holiday menu.

Photo of ingredients used to make olive oil cake. Includes cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, milk, granulated sugar and optional powder sugar.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Granulated sugar (and optional powdered sugar)
  • Lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • Whole milk

Scroll below for full recipe with print option.

Collage of six photos showing steps of preparing olive oil cake batter in a mixer bowl.

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

  1. Preheat oven, prepare pan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan (one that doesn’t leak) with non-stick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray parchment, dust lightly with flour.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients: Sift 1 3/4 cups cake flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add in baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk 20 seconds.
  3. Beat eggs in mixer bowl: Add eggs to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat eggs until foamy, about 1 minute.
  4. Whip in sugar and zest: Add sugar and lemon zest and whip mixture on high speed until pale, thickened and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes. Scape down bowl as needed.
  5. Slowly drizzle in olive oil: With mixer running on medium-low speed, slowly pour in olive oil. Mix until well blended. Scrape down bowl as needed.
  6. Blend additions of flour, milk and flour: Pour in half the flour and mix until combined, then pour in milk and lemon juice and mix until combined. Finish by adding in last half of the flour and mixing until combined.
  7. Pour into pan and bake: Pour batter into prepared cheesecake pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out free of batter but with a few moist crumbs, about 40 – 55 minutes.***
  8. Cool: Let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around edges to ensure cake is loosened and remove pan ring. Let cool at least 1 hour.
  9. Garnish: Dust with powdered sugar if desired before slicing.

Collage of six images showing continued steps of making olive oil cake batter in mixer bowl.

Can it be baked in a regular 9-inch cake pan?

Yes, as long as you have a cake pan that is 3-inches deep, otherwise it may overflow upon baking.

Can I use refined olive oil instead of extra-virgin?

Personally I love that added vibrant olive oil flavor when using “extra-virgin olive oil” here, it’s what really sets this cake apart. But if you would like a milder flavor then yes you can use standard “olive oil”. There is actually quite a big flavor difference between the two if you never noticed.

Is it okay to freeze?

Yes olive oil cake freezes really well for up to 3 months when wrapped and stored properly.

Collage of two photos showing cake batter being poured into springform pan then second showing it baking in the oven.

Variations

  • Add 1/2 tsp almond extract for a nice pairing, or if you insist you can include 1 tsp vanilla extract though it’s not totally traditional or necessary here.
  • Switch lemon zest and juice for orange zest and juice.
  • Olive oil cakes can also be made using a portion of almond flour. Though you’ll need to use a recipe that includes is specifically as ratios will be different.

Helpful Tips

  • Use good quality olive oil. It’s the main flavor here so using a lower quality oil will mean a cake that doesn’t taste as good. I don’t mean a $40 bottle, just something like California Olive Ranch or Lucini which you can get for around $10.
  • Normally this cake is made with all-purpose flour, but by converting to cake flour you’ll have a much fluffier and more tender cake.
  • Sift cake flour before using. Since it’s so fine it has a tendency to clump easily and requires sifting.
  • Use room temperature ingredients so they blend better, fluff better, and cake rises nicely. You can warm ingredients quickly as noted in the recipe if you didn’t plan ahead.
  • If cake is getting too dark during baking you can tent with foil but be sure to add quickly so cake doesn’t deflate. Also it’s helpful to dome the shape so it doesn’t stick to the cake.

Photo of whole olive oil cake with one slice removed.

More Classic Italian Desserts to Try

Photo of slice of olive oil cake decorated with whipped cream, raspberries and rosemary. Shown on a decorative red plate.
5 from 3 votes

Olive Oil Cake

A classic Italian and Mediterranean favorite! Made with rich extra virgin olive oil which produces an incredibly well moistened, flavorful cake. One of the most delicious desserts and perfect when paired with fresh fruit.
Servings: 10
Prep20 minutes
Cook45 minutes
Resting1 hour
Ready in: 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (235g) cake flour,* plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, brought to room temperature**
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • 1 cup whole milk, brought to room temperature**
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting top (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray, preferably olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9-inch springform pan (one that doesn't leak) with non-stick cooking spray. Line with a round of parchment paper on bottom, spray parchment. Dust pan lightly with a little cake flour then shake out excess.
  • Sift 1 3/4 cups cake flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add in baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk 20 seconds, set aside.
  • Add eggs to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat eggs until foamy, about 1 minute.
  • Add sugar and lemon zest and whip mixture on high speed until pale, thickened and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Scape down bowl as needed.
  • With mixer running on medium-low speed, slowly pour in olive oil. Mix until well blended. Scrape down bowl as needed.
  • Pour in half the flour mixture and mix until combined, then pour in milk and lemon juice and mix until combined. Finish by adding in last half of the flour mixture and mixing until combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared cheesecake pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out free of batter but with a few moist crumbs, about 45 - 55 minutes.***
  • Let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around edge of cake to ensure cake is loosened and remove pan ring.
  • Let cool at least 1 hour. Dust with powdered sugar if desired before slicing.

Notes

  • *Preferably measure cake flour by grams. If you don't have a scale use the scoop and level method to measure flour not spoon and level.
  • **To bring eggs to room temperature quickly cover with warm water and let rest 5 minutes. To bring milk to room temperature quickly heat in the microwave briefly until it reaches 70 degrees.
  • ***If needed you can tent cake with domed foil during the last 10 minutes to prevent excess browning. If doing so though open oven and layer it over very quickly, because otherwise cake can deflate in center. 

Topping Ideas

Toppings not included in nutrition estimate.
Nutrition Facts
Olive Oil Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 410 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 58mg19%
Sodium 239mg10%
Potassium 127mg4%
Carbohydrates 44g15%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 26g29%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 121IU2%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 61mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.