Lemon Olive Oil Cake

March 3, 2008 | Chuck
Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Hungry Bear has been craving a tart, lemony dessert for awhile, so we made a lemon olive oil cake this past Sunday night. I love olive oil, but in a cake... hmm? I had my doubts about the cake, but Hungry Bear had it on her list of things to make, so we gave it a try. Much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this light, airy cake.

Depending on how prominent an olive taste you want, extra virgin or regular olive oil can be used in the recipe. We had a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil sitting around and used it in the cake for the added fruitiness. The cake had an interesting aroma. It smelled savory to me, but tasted like a light pound cake or a denser sponge cake. I was all confused as my nose and taste buds were sending mixed messages.

Once I got over my sensory confusion, I really enjoyed the cake. On its own, the cake was very light and not too sweet. It had subtle flavors of lemon and olive oil... obviously. To keep it light, it's best served with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream. For a richer dessert, serve it with a fruit compote and maybe a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

While it wasn't the tart dessert Hungry Bear was seeking, it was still very good and is super easy to make. Despite my initial reservations, this lemon olive oil cake is an excellent dairy free dessert and goes nicely with a spot of tea.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Olive Oil Cake Recipe

SND Note: The cake has a nice lemon flavor but is not tart. For a more prominent olive oil flavor, use an extra virgin olive oil. If you don't have cake flour, all-purpose flour can be substituted.

3/4 cup extra virgin or regular olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup cake flour
5 egg yolks
4 egg whites
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with oil, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and oil it.

2) Finely zest entire lemon and whisk zest together with flour. Halve and squeeze the lemon and reserve 3 tablespoons of juice.

3) With an electric mixer and large bowl, beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed until thick and pale, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add 3/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, beating until combined; mixture may appear separated. Fold in flour mixture with a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula until just combined.

4) With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until foamy. Continue whisking and slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Gently fold one third of whipped whites into yolk mixture to lighten, and then fold in remaining whites until just combined.

5) Pour batter into springform pan and release air bubbles by gently tapping pan against work surface. Evenly sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar over the top of the batter. Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Place on a rack and cool in pan for 10 minutes; run a thin knife around edge of pan and release springform. Cool cake to room temperature, remove parchment and serve with fresh berries.

[Adapted from Gourmet April 2006]

[tags]cake, lemon, olive oil, zest, egg whites, cake flour, light, easy, diary free[/tags]

37 Comments on “Lemon Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Erin said:

    I think it’s safe so say that those images are officially food porn. Generally olive oil in baked goods really turns me off, but those cake pictures make me want to grab a fork and go to town.

  2. That is a recipe I’d love to try. I made an orange-cornmeal-olive oil cake once that was fantastic. Bookmarking this one right now! :)

  3. How fun to be baking on parallel paths! I just love your prep photos – much more professional than mine! I’m glad you enjoyed this cake just as much as my guests and I did. Happy baking!

  4. Beautiful! Olive oil cakes are very popular with Italians. It sounds odd, but it works. Your photos are lovely too!

  5. Indigo said:

    Those pictures are way beyond stunning – I love the texture of the cake, and the gorgeous pale yellow colour ^__^. I’ve never had olive oil in a cake before; I’d love to try it!

  6. Parallel tastebuds again Chuck? I made lemon bars this past weekend. :)

    Your cake looks so light and fluffy. I’ve been meaning to try this cake too but haven’t gotten over the olive oil in cake fear…

  7. JEP said:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I go for anything lemon!

  8. Kevin said:

    Nice photos! Lemon is one of my favorite desert flavours. I will have to try an olive oil cake.

  9. Wow…what amazing photos for such a humble cake.

  10. Chuck said:

    Erin, thanks! This cake has opened my eyes to olive oil baked goods now.

    Patricia, let me know how it turns out if you ever make it.

    Undercover, I think I’m on parallel paths with a few other food bloggers too. I laughed when I saw your picture on tastespotting. Great minds think alike!

    Susan, I’ll have to find some more Italian olive oil cake recipes now.

    WC, I guess we are craving the same things. Did you also cook sardines this past weekend? If you say yes, that would be freaky!

    Indigo, JEP, Kevin and AppetiteforChina, thanks for the complements!

  11. Nice to have a few desserts in the repertoire for lactose-intolerant dinner guests. I’m thinking that a bit more lemon zest would bump up the tartness. I’m bookmarking this one!

  12. It looks great; I always use Betty corker, the easy thing
    But this recipe is worth trying
    Thanks for sharing it

  13. canarygirl said:

    Hee, I just made a lemon and blackberry tart…must be lemon season! :) Beautiful photos as always! :)

  14. patsyk said:

    Wow, that looks incredible! I am already thinking you could vary the flavor a bit by using other citrus… lime, orange, etc. I’m marking this one to try once the weather starts to feel more like spring. Seems like a perfect way to celebrate the start of the new season.

  15. Chuck,
    No sardines but I have been craving them. With some nuoc mam and a loaf of French bread. I steamed a chicken and made mam gung, also made ca ri ga too, you do anything similar? :P

  16. Heather said:

    I love sweet with savory. Peppery flavors with fruit is delightful. I would love your cake! :)

  17. Ann said:

    I adore olive oil cake… and lemon is the perfect compliment. Great photos!

  18. Syrie said:

    I love it too. Your photos are gorgeous. It’s all making me very hungry.

  19. wendy boucek said:

    I made this cake & brought it to a party last night (with a simple lemon glaze dribbled over). It was the hit of the party – soft, light with an almost custardy center. Thank you!!! I’ve posted a link here on my facebook page.

  20. Jennie said:

    Hey Chuck, question for you… my birthday’s coming up soon…
    No, I don’t want you to make me this cake, although that would be nice. What I was wondering is what light set-up do you use as I like the natural glow in your photos? I want to ask for new lights for my birthday and thought you might have a good recommendation? Gracias!!!

  21. Chuck said:

    Wendy, yeah! I’m glad you and the cake were the hit of the party!

    Jennie, 99% of the photos are taken next to a window with natural light. But I recently got the Lowel Ego Lights that Jaden from Steamy Kitchen recommended. I’m still testing them out, but I’ll let you know how they work out soon.

  22. Jennie said:

    Ah, I was considering those but wanted to get some other blogger’s thought so definitely let me know if you like them. I wish I had the natural light at my disposal but, alas, live amongst thick trees so not much light gets in the house. Pros and cons to that, of course… :)

  23. Brian said:

    Made this cake 3 times in the last month. Everytime better results. I tried it with Meyer Lemons the second time and it was just as good. I used the fifth egg white for fun on the last one and it made it a little fluffier at 40 minutes in the oven. Coworkers love it as much as the ubiquitous Krispy Kreme. Has anyone tried this with oranges?

  24. This looks delicious. Mario Batali’s place here in NYC serves an olive oil gelato that would go great with this cake!

  25. Phan said:

    I made this cake last night. I couldn’t wait to try it. It was amazing. It was so lite, moisted and airy. The other amazing thing is that it was so easy to make. Delicious!!

  26. Giulietta said:

    Lovely recipe!

    Thank you very much, just made it today, and it came out wonderfully moist and fragrant!

  27. Tammy said:

    I made this cake for the birthday of a friend who cannot have dairy. EVERYONE loved it. I was light but seemed very buttery in your mouth. The taste was totally fresh and clean. It is essential to the texture to dust the sugar on top of the cake. It steals the show and makes the top have a crackly texture that adds a ton of interest to the meltingly smooth texture of the cake. Certainly a great hot weather dessert and not one that makes you feel like you are missing anything. This cake is a standout!

  28. Mike said:


    This cake just came out of the oven… and… wow!!!

    It was a simple, easy and un-messy recipe… quickly comes out of the oven… and… it’s delicious… moist… fruity… zesty… lemony… I will definitely be making this and working with the zest along with maybe throwing in an extract here or there to give it some extract depth…

    This will be my go to simple cake recipe…

  29. Jennifer said:

    Lemon cake is my husband’s favorite. I made this for his birthday party, because we have dairy-free guests that I wanted to enjoy the festivities as well.

    This cake is wonderful…I used brown sugar to give it a more caramelized flavor… drizzled a lemon-blackberry compote over it. It was fab.

  30. ar said:

    I have found the secret to making ANY cake amazing, is indeed an electric mixer! Not just a hand mixer, but a fully electric one. My grandmother gave me her old one and I use it absolutely for everything! This cake is fantastic– kudos!

  31. Hello! Great stuff, please do keep me posted when you post something like this!

  32. I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  33. Thanks – Enjoyed this blog post, how can I make is so that I receive an email sent to me every time you publish a new update?

  34. Georgiana Darcy said:

    Gosh, this is SO delicious! I love this cake – I have had it for breakfast the last couple of days (like in Italy….). I will certainly make it again!

    Many thanks for the recipe!



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