If you think cake needs butter, think again. This Italian-inspired citrus olive oil cake tastes like a light pound cake with the perfect crumb and a delicious caramelized crust. Olive oil infuses a pleasant fruity flavor, and it keeps the cake moist for longer than butter ever could. In fact, this cake is even better when made a day or two in advance.
You can serve it as is, for a patio dessert or with afternoon tea. We also like it with fresh chopped fruit or summer berries. And I don’t think anyone will argue if you top with with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream!
Citrus Olive Oil Cake is a Moist and Tender Mediterranean Staple
This olive oil cake recipe was shared with us by family owned and operated Bel Lavoro Olive Orchards. It’s from the kitchen of owner, Kim Branum. She uses their Cut1886 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is crafted from a small batch. It’s a medium-bodied olive oil with hints of herbs and spice.
Olive Oil Cake Recipe Tips & Options
Choose good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Kim recommends using a fresh olive oil with good flavor. If you wouldn’t eat it on a salad, it won’t be good in your cake.
You can use all-purpose flour. Cake flour provides a lighter consistency, but you an substitute all-purpose flour if that’s all you have on hand.
Go nuts with the flavor, if desired. If you want to play off the nuttiness of the almond flour, you can substitute amaretto for the Grand Marnier, and even add a little almond extract in place of some of the vanilla extract.
Regular olive oil works too. Using extra-virgin olive oil results in a more pronounced flavor, while regular olive oil yields a lighter taste.
Special Diet Notes: Citrus Olive Oil Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian.
- For nut-free citrus olive oil cake, you can substitute fine or medium-grind cornmeal for the almond flour.
- For egg-free and vegan citrus olive oil cake, I would use a good structural egg substitute like aquafaba. Please note that this recipe has not been tested egg-free. Let us know if you try it!
- For gluten-free citrus olive oil cake, I would use eggs, not an egg substitute, if possible. And use a light gluten-free flour blend that is made for cakes, like this gluten-free flour blend. You might also need to add about 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. Please note that this recipe has not been tested gluten-free. Let us know if you try it!
Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
- Olive oil and sugar for the pan
- 2 cups cake flour
- ⅓ cup almond flour or hazelnut flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- 3 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (see note below for Citrus Options)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan with oil and use your fingers to coat it. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and smooth to eliminate air bubbles. Coat the parchment with more oil. Generously sprinkle the pan with sugar and tilt to coat in an even layer.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, almond or hazelnut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed (use whisk attachment if working with a stand mixer), beat the 1 cup sugar, eggs, and lemon zest until the mixture is very light, thick, pale, and falls off the whisk or beaters in a slowly dissolving ribbon. This takes about 3 minutes if using a stand mixer and about 5 minutes if using a hand mixer.
- With mixer still on high speed, gradually stream in the 1¼ cups oil and beat until incorporated and the mixture is even thicker. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the Grand Marnier mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
- Fold the batter several times with a large rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of bowl. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
- Place the cake in your oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the center is firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
- Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick or skewer and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Let it absorb, and let the cake cool completely.
- For the best flavor and texture, wrap the cake in plastic and let it sit at room temperature at least a day before serving.
Citrus Options: If using regular lemon, increase the sugar in the batter by 2 tablespoons (1 cup + 2 tablespoons total). You can alternatively substitute orange (fresh-squeezed juice and zest) for the Meyer lemon. If using orange, there’s no need to increase the sugar.