If you’re like me, you rely on olive oil to lend extra flavor to marinades, vegetables and even our favorite breads (this olive oil dip is perfect for pairing with good Italian bread). But it turns out that you don’t have to limit olive oil to just savory applications. With the right recipe, a good extra virgin olive oil can give cakes great texture and moisture.
I know it sounds a bit strange, but combined with some citrus and almonds, olive oil makes for a rather plush cake. The result isn’t overly sweet, which means a good olive oil cake can just as easily sub in for an afternoon treat or breakfast (who doesn’t like cake for breakfast?) as it can serve as dessert. Since it only takes about ten minutes to pull together, I can’t recommend trying this cake enough. So grab your favorite bottle of extra virgin olive oil—here’s how to pick out the good stuff—and break out your mixer.
Can You Use Olive Oil in a Cake Recipe?
Yes. Considering all its savory applications, it can be hard to think of olive oil as having a place in baking. However, olive oil can be used in place of traditional cooking oils—just swap out the same amount of vegetable or canola oil for extra virgin olive oil.
You can also swap out butter and use extra virgin olive oil if you prefer. The rule of thumb here is to use 75 percent the amount of butter called for, so if your recipe calls for eight ounces of butter, use just six of oil.
Before you trade in olive oil for butter, there are a few things to consider. First off, you need to understand the flavor profile of the cake. Chances are, olive oil won’t play well in something like a confetti cake—though it does do well in this cornmeal cake. Also, keep in mind that butter and oil don’t behave the same way in the batter. Butter can be aerated with sugar to create air bubbles that will give the cake lift. Olive oil will not do that. Instead, the lift comes from the baking soda or powder in the recipe.
Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home
How to Make Olive Oil Cake
For this recipe you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of an orange
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For a simple icing on top, you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
- Sliced almonds to garnish
Step 1: Whisk Your Wet Ingredients
To start this cake, whisk together the olive oil, eggs and sugar with either your trusty hand mixer or stand mixer—this is our Test Kitchen’s favorite brand. Don’t attempt this by hand. You’ll want the extra power to get these ingredients nice and fluffy. Whisk on medium-high speed for about five minutes. The mixture should be a lemony color.
Then add in your milk, vanilla extract, orange zest and ground almonds and whisk together until just combined.
Pro tip: I used ground almonds here since they’re readily available at the grocery store, however, feel free to substitute your favorite nut. Pistachios and walnuts would work great. Similarly, you can swap out the orange zest for blood orange, lemon or even grapefruit. The nuts and citrus fruits in this recipe give you some room to customize it to suit your taste.
Step 2: Fold in the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to your wet mixture and fold together until just combined.
The batter takes less than ten minutes to make, so it’s a great recipe for when you only have a few moments of prep time. You can also check out these desserts that take 30 minutes start to finish.
Step 3: Bake the Olive Oil Cake
Prep your favorite bundt pan by giving it a liberal coating of cooking spray—if you have an olive oil-based one, all the better. For this recipe, I used my go-to pan from Nordic Ware. It holds ten cups and was just the right size, though you can check out our editors’ favorite bundts, too.
Once your pan is coated, pour in your cake batter and cook at 350ºF for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to bake on the middle rack; it’s the best place for cakes, cookies and other common bakes.
When the cake is done, place on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, invert the pan and turn the cake out. Allow this to cool completely before icing.
Step 4: Making the Icing
All you need to finish this cake is a very simple icing. Just whisk together confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until it’s the perfect drizzling consistency. From there, just drizzle over the top of the cake with a spoon.
To give it that last finishing touch, top with sliced almonds. I like to toast them first for a bit of extra flavor. I toss mine into a small pan and do it over the stove, but here are some other easy ways to do it, too.
Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home
How Did It Taste?
Slicing into this cake, it’s exceptionally tender. The olive oil gives it just the right amount of moisture and lends just a bit of its rich flavor, making this bundt cake a dessert that’s not overly sweet.
Can You Taste the Olive Oil in Baking?
Extra virgin olive oil serves only as a very mild base flavor for cake. Its savory leanings are definitely mellowed out by the addition of sugar, vanilla, orange and almonds. What olive oil really brings to this cake is moisture and texture.
For this cake, the orange zest and the almonds are really the main flavors. With the glaze on top, you really get that bright citrus kick and those almonds give it a beautiful texture.
Overall, I’d say this cake is a great one to add to your repertoire. I think it’ll become a quick and easy go-to for afternoon get-togethers (and the occasional breakfast).
Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home
Love citrus? Try these orange-infused desserts next.
I make these citrusy cookies for parties and special occasions, and we always get to eat the ones that don’t come out perfectly. Eventually I had to start making extra “mistakes” to keep my family happy! —Myrrh Wertz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
I like to bake this lovely three-layer cake instead of a more traditional pie for Thanksgiving. It has that tangy Florida citrus flavor and isn’t any more difficult to make than a two-layer cake. —Norma Poole, Auburndale, Florida
You can customize this bread to your family’s specific tastes. Try dried apricots and pecans, or dried blueberries and hazelnuts. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The holiday version of tiramisu trades the Amaretto and coffee notes of the traditional dessert for the bright, seasonal flavors of cranberries and orange. The combination of orange liqueur and Marsala wine make this a delicious, potent meal-ender. —Jerry Gulley, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
My family and I love to snack on biscotti. Biscotti is actually very easy to make and is delicious with breakfast or as a snack. It stores well for over a week in a sealed jar or bag. I came up with the recipe when trying to use odds and ends I had in the house. It’s delicious with coffee or espresso! —Sarah Knoblock, Hyde Park, Indiana
I put a tablespoon of orange zest in both the cookie and icing to make these crispy cookies nice and bright, like a little ray of sunshine. —Wendy Montecalvo, Pleasantville, New Jersey
I used cranberries for decorations in a wedding, then challenged myself to find a way to use up the surplus. This pretty, super moist cake with cranberries in the batter and sometimes, sugared ones on top, was the result! —S. Jade Klope, Paducah, Kentucky
A twist on classic baklava, this recipe adds semisweet chocolate to the nut filling and drizzles even more on top. Christmas gift-giving has never been yummier! —Nella Parker, Hersey, MI
My friend gave me a recipe for orange cookies. I just had to embellish it. Now my friends and family crave these tarts. —Nancy Bruce, Big Timber, Montana
I tinkered with a plain apple cake recipe to create this moist, delicious winner. The result: old-fashioned goodness with a heavenly aroma! This cake is the perfect fall treat or holiday dessert, but it’s also great as a special breakfast or brunch item. —Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida
Old-fashioned divinity candy is even yummier with a hint of refreshing orange zest and bits of crunchy pistachios. Store-bought versions just can’t compare! —Lorri Reinhardt, Big Bend, Wisconsin
I come from a big Italian family where my mom cooked and baked many delicious meals and desserts from scratch. Now I like to do the same for my family. This cake is my finale to our Italian Christmas Eve dinner. —Cathy Banks, Encinitas, California
I send these to family and friends in other areas of the country. The citrusy, two-tone treats bring a taste of the Sunshine State. — Geordyth Sullivan, Cutler Bay, Florida
For breakfast on Thanksgiving, my mom requested an orange pull-apart bread. I tried making one by dressing up tubes of refrigerated rolls. She loved it!—Shelly Bevington, Hermiston, Oregon
Two of my favorite ingredients, oranges and cashews, make a fantastic combination for a holiday bar—especially when you use fresh-squeezed orange juice in the glaze. —Anna Wood, Cullowhee, North Carolina
A hint of cranberry and a splash of orange are wrapped in buttery cookie, then drizzled in chocolate. Can you say, “heaven?” A platter of these showstopping treats makes any event a celebration. —Ginger Sullivan, Cutler Bay, Florida
Citrus, cinnamon and smoky chipotle peppers make my version of this flaky, sweet pastry so unique. It’s really rich, so a little goes a long way. —Christine Neary, Portland, Oregon
I had never tried pistachios until I visited a friend who served me these cookies. I was in love! I made the recipe my own, and now my family can’t get enough of them. —Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
I made this for a holiday dinner with my family. Everyone loved the cran-orange flavor and the sweet glaze drizzled on top. For a fun variation, add 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut when including the orange juice to the batter, and sprinkle the finished cake with toasted coconut. —Patricia Harmon, Baden, Pennsylvania
This flavorful fruit was actually the topping in a cake recipe. But I didn’t want all the calories or fat from the cake—and the oranges are a good dessert all by themselves! The dash of vanilla extract brings out the fruit’s sweetness. —Carol Poindexter, Norridge, Illinois
A traditional Italian dessert served during the holidays and for special occasions, the orange and chocolate flavors make a classic Italian pairing. The result is rich and tangy – a perfect finale to a Mediterranean-style dinner. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
A shiny, mirror-like orange glaze covers a chocolate mousse cake to create a delicious show-stopping dessert your guests will be talking about for weeks to come.—Matthew Hass, Franklin, Wisconsin
This coffee ring is an old family recipe that’s long been a hit with anyone who’s tried it. The yeast bread is a great Sunday treat – or the perfect way to kick off your holiday celebration.
When I want to drop a little sunshine into my cookie jar, I bake up a double batch of these citrusy and sweet treats. —Ruth Gladstone, Brunswick, Maryland
These delightful little cupcakes have wonderful old-fashioned taste without all the fat and calories. And the creamy orange glaze will keep the kids coming back for more.—Kim Chester, Cartersville, Georgia
This frosty orange pie is so easy to make. I have tried lemonade, mango and pineapple juice concentrates instead of orange, and my family loves each one. —Marie Przepierski, Erie, Pennsylvania
These tender cookies are pretty to look at—and the combination of cream cheese, orange, chocolate and almonds makes them almost irresistible. —Linda Call, Falun, Kansas
Studded with cranberries, slices of pretty bread make the perfect holiday brunch treat. Don’t forget to dust the top with flour for artisan look! —Megumi Garcia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
I have to give my husband credit for this idea—since we love chocolate and orange together, he suggested I come up with this recipe. Now they’re not only his favorite, but also the whole family’s. I’m always asked to bake these brownies for family gatherings. —Elinor Townsend, North Grafton, Massachusetts
Brown sugar gives these spritz cookies a lovely light caramel tint. This variation has a rich buttery shortbread taste and texture with a hint of orange flavor. They are a delightful addition to my holiday cookie tray. -Sean Fleming, St. Charles, Illinois
My grandmother made luscious fruit pies and cobblers using blackberries from her garden. I decided to follow her lead and create a blackberry cake that’s always lovely with a summer meal. —Lisa M. Varner, El Paso, Texas
These yummy rolls are a nice change of pace from the typical brown sugar and cinnamon kind. They make a nice treat for breakfast or brunch. — Hannah Cobb, Owings Mills, Maryland
I like this recipe because the orange juice gives the nut bread such a unique flavor and also makes it moist. —Barbara Roethlisberger, Shepherd, Michigan
This decadent treat doesn’t last long at our house. The Creamsicle flavor of this soft fudge brings on the smiles. Bright orange and marshmallow swirls make it a perfect takealong for events and get-togethers. —Diane Wampler, Morristown, Tennessee
Coming from Oregon, a state famous for its cranberries, this bread is a given at our house. Each fall my husband and I scrounge around for walnuts to go in it. It’s a regular on our table, and not just at Thanksgiving. I freeze the berries so I have a ready supply all year long. —Elaine Kremenak, Grants Pass, Oregon
Moist and scrumptious, these scones come out perfect every time. I savor the chewy dried cranberries and sweet orange glaze. There’s nothing better than serving these remarkable scones warm with the delicate orange butter. —Karen McBride, Indianapolis, Indiana
The aroma of orange zest hints at how heavenly this delicate cheesecake tastes. Gingersnap cookie crumbs make a distinctive crust, while glazed orange slices become a blossomlike topping. —Sharon Delaney-Chronis, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This is one of my favorite cakes. It’s moist and light yet so satisfying. I’ve been adapting it for years and now it’s almost guilt-free. —Pam Sjolund, Columbia, South Carolina
Time-crunched cooks are sure to appreciate the make-ahead convenience of this delightful dish. Feel free to replace the orange marmalade with any jam or jelly that suits your taste.—Mary L. Gabriel, Las Vegas, Nevada
My three sisters like the combination of chocolate and orange as much as I do, so we all really savor these beautiful cookies. The candied orange peel on top is a special twist. —Ruth Rumple, Rockford, Ohio
My mother has had this recipe for years. I love it! These bars make great snacks, but can also be served for dessert. —Margaret Adelman, Bellingham, Minnesota
My husband’s grandmother made a variety of cookies every year for her grandkids at Christmastime. She would box them up and give each child his or her own box. This crisp, orange flavored cookie is one of my favorites from her collection.—Heather McKillip, Aurora, Illinois
Tart berries, crunchy nuts and sweet chocolate are simply scrumptious when mixed together in this easy quick bread. Sometimes I’ll top it off with an orange-flavored glaze.
Each Christmas I teach myself a new candy recipe. Last year I started with my caramel recipe and added a splash of orange extract for fun. This year I just might try buttered rum extract. —Shelly Bevington-Fisher, Hermiston, Oregon
I make this showstopper for many occasions, slightly changing—or adding—ingredients. I sometimes add toasted coconut between the layers. —Raymonde Bourgeois, Swastika, Ontario
Soft candy orange slices are a refreshing addition to these crispy vanilla chip cookies from Britt Strain, Idaho Falls, Idaho. To quickly cut the orange candy, use scissors, rinsing the blades with cold water occasionally to reduce sticking.
A basic angel food cake becomes a heavenly indulgence thanks to a hint of orange flavor swirled into every bite. The orange color makes slices of the cake look so pretty when arranged on individual dessert plates.—Lauren Osborne, Holtwood, Pennsylvania
My baking therapy is to make treats for friends and co-workers. This pull-apart bread makes everyone smile as they face a busy day. —Vickie Friday Martin, Scroggins, Texas
These moist loaves are packed with the zesty taste of cranberries and orange peel. I suggest serving slices toasted with butter or cream cheese. —Ron Gardner, Grand Haven, Michigan
I usually make these bite-size cookies at Christmastime, when oranges in Florida are plentiful, but they’re delicious any time of year. Every time I sniff their wonderful aroma, I remember my grandmother, who shared the recipe. —Lori DiPietro, New Port Richey, Florida
When pumpkin season rolls around, I like to find new ways to enjoy it in almost all my cooking. This creamy dessert feels so festive this time of year—it gives you classic pumpkin pie flavor with just a kiss of orange. —Donna Roberts, Manhattan, Kansas
This is my take on my mother’s recipe for chocolate chunk bars, which she made every Christmas Eve. Our family is scattered across the country now; making these reminds me of home. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use two sharp knifes or a potato masher. My mom makes this with semisweet chocolate chunks. —Erin Powell, Amarillo, Texas
Of all the cookies I’ve made over the years, shortbread is the one that won’t last 24 hours in our house. My 11-year-old daughter is wild for dark chocolate and the cayenne pepper is hardly noticeable, but adds a sophisticated kick.—Holly Campbell, Palouse, Washington
These cups are easy to put on a platter for impressive presentation—they’re a true one-bite pleasure! Top them with the fresh fruit of your choice: Half a strawberry or a piece of mandarin orange complements the hazelnut chocolate flavor of the Nutella. —Joanie Fuson, Indianapolis, Indiana
I love spicy chocolate so I came up with this recipe. Because it starts with a packaged sugar cookie mix, it’s super easy! And orange, cinnamon and cayenne are a surprising combo that can’t be beat.—Debbie Blunt, Wickenburg, Arizona
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