Olive oil makes a moist, tender, light cake that’s the perfect homemade dessert or afternoon treat. With hints of lemon and vanilla, this olive oil cake is bright, fragrant, and delectable.
Why You’ll Love This Olive Oil Cake
You might be skeptical; olive oil in cake? It adds subtle flavor while creating a fabulously moist and tender cake! Here are 5 reasons why you’ll love this olive oil cake.
- Light: this cake is light enough to enjoy even after a big dinner, or in the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee.
- Moist: no dry olive oil cake here!
- Flavorful: this cake is scented with lemon and vanilla, with delicate flavor from extra virgin olive oil. Depending on the olive oil you use, the flavor of the cake will subtly change! Some olive oils are fruity, floral and delicate while some are more robust, earthy and/or herbal.
- Easy to make: This cake takes only an hour to make, from start to taste!
- Make ahead: Olive oil cake keeps well for 3-4 days.
Ingredients for Olive Oil Cake
- All-purpose flour – flour is the base for our olive oil cake!
- Granulated sugar – just the right amount of sugar sweetens our cake, without being too sweet.
- Extra virgin olive oil – a good extra virgin olive oil is key! If you prefer a delicately flavored olive oil cake, use a mild olive oil. If you prefer a more intensely flavored olive oil cake, use a more assertive olive oil.
- Buttermilk – a bit of buttermilk yields a light, tender crumb.
- Eggs – eggs help our cake come together.
- Fresh lemon juice – a bit of lemon juice adds flavor.
- Lemon zest – lemon zest adds lemony flavor without adding additional acid (like lemon juice would).
- Vanilla extract – vanilla makes everything better! You can also use almond extract.
- Baking soda – baking soda helps our cake rise and creates a soft crumb.
- Baking powder – baking powder adds lift and softness too.
- Salt – salt adds flavor.
- Powdered sugar (optional) – a dusting of powdered sugar adds a beautiful touch to the top of your olive oil cake!
How to Make Olive Oil Cake
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Grease a 9” cake pan very well with cooking spray. Cut out a round of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the cake pan. Place parchment on bottom of greased cake pan. Then spray parchment with cooking spray.
- Dry ingredients.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, olive oil, buttermilk, beaten eggs, and vanilla extract.
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-31 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (or with a few loose crumbs).
Let cake rest for 10 minutes before inverting cake onto a plate.
Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar (if desired).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This olive oil cake is lightly scented with lemon and vanilla. If you use a mild-tasting olive oil, the cake will have very subtle olive oil flavor. If the olive oil is robust, the cake will have a stronger olive oil taste! It depends on your preference. I recommend trying the olive oil you plan to use first, to see whether it’s strong, mild, floral, herbal, etc.
Yes, olive oil cake is generally better for you than other cakes, since extra virgin olive oil is a healthier fat!
Olive oil cake keeps well for 3-4 days.
Store olive oil cake on a plate, covered well with plastic wrap, or in another airtight container at room temperature.
Yes! Freeze cake by wrapping it in plastic wrap and then placing in a freezer safe bag or other container. Cake keeps well in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Serve olive oil cake at room temperature or slightly warm with Vanilla Whipped Cream, coconut or vanilla ice cream, homemade Lemon Ice Cream, nuts like pistachios or slivered almonds, or Strawberry Preserves.
Other Dessert Recipes You’ll Love!
- 9" cake pan
- Parchment paper
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of a medium lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar to garnish (optional)
- Grease a 9” cake pan very well with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe the spray onto the sides and the bottom of the pan. Cut out a round of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the cake pan (trace around the bottom of the cake pan and then use scissors to cut). Place parchment on bottom of greased cake pan. Then spray parchment with cooking spray, using a paper towel to help spread the oil. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together sugar, olive oil, buttermilk, beaten eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring together until just combined.
- Add lemon zest and lemon juice (zest lemon first before juicing). Stir until just combined. Batter may be a bit lumpy.
- Pour batter into the prepared cake pan, spreading into an even layer.
- Bake at 350°F for 25-31 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with a few loose crumbs).
- Let cake rest for 10 minutes before inverting cake onto a plate. Invert by running a sharp knife along the outside of the cake to loosen its edges. Place a plate on top of the cake pan (eating side face down). Use hot pads to protect your hands, and hold cake pan with plate on top of it. Swiftly flip cake pan upside down so that the cake falls onto the plate. Set plate down on the counter with cake pan on top of it. Lift cake pan, and voilà! You cake should be on the plate.
- Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar (if desired).
- Grease your pan well (and use parchment paper), or else your cake will get stuck in the pan!
- Choosing an olive oil: good quality extra virgin olive oil is key! Use your favorite olive oil or one you enjoy the taste of alone. Some olive oils are fruity, floral and delicate while some are more robust, earthy and/or herbal.
- You can use almond extract instead of vanilla extract, if preferred.
- If cake seems to be browning too quickly, you can lightly tent it with aluminum foil.
- Want orange flavor instead? Substitute fresh orange juice and zest.
- Use a sieve or strainer to dust cake with powdered sugar.
- Serve warm or room temperature.