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. By the way, here are the healthy oils you should have in your pantry.
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.
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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.
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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