This super fragrant Orange Olive Oil Cake is the sweetest, most delicious way to showcase bright, citrus that's available like oranges year-round. Because you already have all the ingredients, requires only one bowl, and is endlessly forgiving and flexible, it will become a go-to recipe in your kitchen! Shall we?
This Orange Olive Oil Cake is a variation of one of, like, three dessert recipes I actually bake All. The. Time.
- What is Olive Oil Cake?
- Is This the Kylie Jenner Olive Oil Cake?
- Does the Cake Taste Like Olive Oil?
- Olive Oil vs Butter in Baking
- Is Olive Oil Cake Healthy
- Ingredients You Need
- What Kind of Olive Oil for this Cake
- How to Make Orange Olive Oil Cake
- Pro Tips, Tricks, and Technique FAQs
- Ingredients Substitutions and FAQs
- Variations and More Recipes
- Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe
What is Olive Oil Cake?
An Olive Oil Cake is a cake made with, wait for it, olive oil as the primary fat component as opposed to butter or another vegetable oil.
The Orange Olive Oil Cake version is flavored with fresh orange juice and zest. To level it up, it also has paper-thin slices of oranges baked right into the bottom (then top) of the cake.
Because olive oil is a liquid, an Olive Oil Cake comes together in one bowl without having to wait to soften butter, or wear out your forearms to beat butter and sugar. The cake bakes as a single layer in a cake pan or a loaf pan. This is why Olive Oil Cakes are my favorite to make. Dump. Stir. Bake.
Other ingredients like a dairy component (milk, buttermilk, yogurt) and eggs sometimes, but not always, make an appearance for texture and aid in leavening. The simple blending method is forgiving so it's easy to stir in additional flavors in the form of herbs, spices, and chocolate.
Here are some of my favorite versions of olive oil cakes:
- Orange Olive Oil Cake, the recipe on this post!
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake is the lemon version of this cake, dairy-free and baked in an 8-inch round pan
- Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Candied Rosemary recipe, dairy-free, baked in 8-inch round cake pan
- Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, dairy-free, rich and chocolatey baked in an 8-inch round springform pan
Olive Oil Cakes are usually not overly sweet, so they do best served without a sugary, heavy frosting. A light dusting of confectioner's sugar with some fresh fruit on top is a perfect, simple adornment for visuals.
The cake is generally thought of as a dessert from the Mediterranean cuisines, in which olive oil plays an important role in food and culture. The first time I ever tasted olive oil cake was in an Italian restaurant. I was hooked because unsurprisingly, it was "not too sweet."
Is This the Kylie Jenner Olive Oil Cake?
That viral tiktok Olive Oil Cake that Kylie Jenner (in)famously cut into weird shapes was made by a Los Angeles bakery that is unfortunately no longer around.
However, most olive oil cakes are essentially the same few ingredients in varying ratios. And based on my research, the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake recipe is probably pretty close, down to the dusting with confectioner's sugar and rosemary garnish. Minus the celebrity's shock-value cutting method, of course.
Does the Cake Taste Like Olive Oil?
Unless you use a cold-pressed, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil that's intensely aromatic, the olive oil flavor in the final cake will not stand out. Because many olive oils have an inherently citrusy aroma, the cake will taste more like orange than olive oil, or whatever other "flavor" ingredient you add to the cake like orange liqueur, herbs, nuts, or chocolate.
Olive Oil vs Butter in Baking
Aside from the fact that the two ingredients having very different flavor profiles, olive oil and butter render final products with different textures. Olive oil cakes are denser and moister, and stay moist for much longer than cakes made with butter.
Generally speaking, olive oil is considered a healthier fat choice over butter because of its omega-3 content, making an olive oil cake a more appropriate choice for people with certain health and dietary needs. However, cakes and other baked goods, even with olive oil, may have other ingredients like sugar, wheat flour, eggs, and dairy, that affect the nutrient density of the final dish. Which brings us to...
Is Olive Oil Cake Healthy
As a quick note, almost all of the Olive Oil Cake recipes I've shared so far are dairy-free, and it's partially by design because I don't usually keep milk, buttermilk or even yogurt on hand.
Everything else you need for this cake, you probably already have in your refrigerator and pantry. Only eight ingredients!
Ingredients You Need
Because this Orange Olive Oil Cake is something I spontaneously decide to make on some random Wednesday afternoon (usually as a way to procrastinate, surprise, surprise), I want to be able to bake it right away without having to go to the grocery store to buy additional ingredients. I almost always have flour in the freezer as well as sugar because it doesn't go bad. Of course, I always have oranges (for feng shui!), olive oil, and eggs. Here is a list of the ingredients you need:
- Olive oil, obviously!
- Orange liqueur (easily substituted out!)
- Vanilla Extract
- Pantry leaveners like baking powder and soda
What Kind of Olive Oil for this Cake
The point of this Orange Olive Oil Cake is the olive oil, so use the best-tasting (to you) extra virgin olive oil you can afford. Though the flavor of the oil will be subtle in the final cake, it's best to go with extra virgin for quality, and an olive oil on the deeper, fruitier side rather than on the intense, peppery side.
Avoid using "light" olive oil for this cake, which refers to the oil's flavor and color, not the calories. Light olive oil has been processed which makes it more suitable for cooking at high heat, but also results in fewer nutrients.
I like this California-grown olive oil, but it's also VERY expensive, so I am saving that for times when I am eating straight olive oil like as a dip for bread, and using this mild, organic olive oil for the cake.
Additional Ingredients Notes and Resources
- Oranges: For this Olive Oil Cake, I used organic basic Valencia or navel oranges because I like how easily available they are for this cake. You can use the peachy-pink Cara Cara oranges and the cake will be ever so slightly pink in color. If blood oranges are available to you, grab them and use them because they make the deepest darkest prettiest color for the cake.
- Orange Liqueur. If you have a well-stocked home bar, you will likely have some kind of orange-based liqueur perfect for this cake. Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and other types of triple sec all work. I used a sweet dessert wine that has a citrus undertone called 'Essensia.'
- Flour. You can use any form of wheat flour for Orange Olive Oil Cake. I used this brand of organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour. I have made this cake with half whole wheat flour and as expected, it works perfectly well.
- All other fresh herbs and produce from either the Santa Monica Farmers' Market on Wednesday, or Whole Foods Market when I can't find what I need at the farmers' market.
How to Make Orange Olive Oil Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray sides with baking spray.
Thoroughly scrub the outside of an orange, dry, then slice cross-wise into ⅛-inch wide "sunshines."
Cut three or four of the largest slices in half, and arrange around the edge of the pan with the cut sides on the outermost edges. Arrange remaining slices over parchment paper in concentric circles, carefully overlapping the edges slightly to make sure the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
Beat together eggs and sugar until light and pale yellow. Add olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract, and orange liqueur if using. Beat until well-combined. You don't have to worry about over-beating.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt directly over the bowl into the olive oil mixture and gently fold together until just combined. If you are using regular wheat flour, don't overmix.
Pour Orange Olive Oil Cake batter into pan over the orange slices, carefully so you don't move the orange slices around. Gently tap pan against countertop to pop air bubbles. Bake in 350°F oven for 40 minutes, start checking with wooden toothpick at 35 minutes. Total actual baking time will depend on your specific oven.
Remove cake from oven, run a knife with a thin blade around the edge, and cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Release cake from pan sides, and cool cake on a wire rack for at least 20 more minutes.
Invert the cooled Orange Olive Oil Cake onto a serving plate or cake stand. Remove the pan bottom, then peel away the parchment liner.
Tools and Equipment for Orange Olive Oil Cake
There isn't any special tool or piece of equipment required for Orange Olive Oil Cake, and in fact, I highly encourage you to skip hauling out heavy stand mixers, or even a hand mixer for this. However, that doesn't mean there are a couple of things that might make this cake easier than it already is to get from pantry to plate.
- 9-inch round springform pan. The recipe here specifies a 9-inch springform pan and it's the one I used because that's the type of pan I have that's the right volume. You can absolutely use a regular round cake pan with minimum 2-inch high sides that's well-greased and lined with parchment paper to make removal easy. You can also use other shaped pans, see below in the FAQ.
- Parchment paper to release the bottom of the cake without ripping off any of the orange slices.
- Produce brush to scrub the peels of the oranges, which are in the cake as both the upside down topping and zest in the batter
- Produce wash to help dissolve the natural waxes on the skins of the oranges
- Microplane grater to zest the oranges
- Glass mixing bowls
Pro Tips, Tricks, and Technique FAQs
- How much orange juice and zest come from one orange? On average, one regular orange yields:
- 1 tablespoon of orange zest and
- ¼ cup orange juice.
For this recipe, plan to use 3 oranges—2 oranges for the cake batter, plus 1 orange for the slices on the bottom of the cake—and grab an extra one or two just in case. You can never have too many oranges laying around your kitchen!
- How to Get the Most Orange Zest and Juice : Zest the whole orange first on a microplane grater. Your orange will soften a little in your hands as you're grating. Roll the zested orange on a countertop with some pressure to "loosen the juice" inside. Cut the orange in half, then squeeze for juice. This way will help you get the most zest and juice from your oranges. No waste!
- Can You Use a Different Size Cake Pan to Bake the Cake? Yes! Because this Olive Oil Cake is so forgiving, you can use slightly different sized and shaped pans. A slightly smaller 8-inch round cake pan will yield a taller cake, and needs to bake for a longer time. Check the cake at 40 minutes.
- Can You Bake the Cake in a Loaf Pan? Yes! The cake will no longer be served "upside down," so skip the fresh orange slices in the bottom of the pan. In an 8-inch loaf pan, bake the cake for a little longer. The cake will have a slightly deeper golden "crust" because it's in the oven for longer, but it's still cake.
Ingredients Substitutions and FAQs
The recipe for this cake is called "fool-proof" because it is very forgiving in terms of ingredients and measurement precision. Here are the pro-tips:
- Different Type of Flour? You can use any form of wheat flour for Orange Olive Oil Cake. This brand of organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour is the one I use. I have made this cake with half whole wheat flour and as expected, it works perfectly well. For gluten-free flours... glad you asked! See next...
- Can You Make it Gluten-free? Yes! Two baking-ready gluten-free flours my gluten-free experts friends have recommended are Measure-for-Measure by King Arthur and Pamela's, both of which you can substitute into recipes 1:1.
- Can You Make it Vegan? If you replace the eggs with an appropriate plant-based egg substitute, the cake will be vegan. That being said...
- Can you Replace the Eggs? I have not yet personally made this Orange Olive Oil Cake with an egg substitute, either store-bought or something like ground flaxseeds. If you do, please let me know how it turns out!
- Can You Substitute Out the Olive Oil? The point of this cake is olive oil. If you want to use a different oil or melted butter, make a different cake. (That being said, you can absolutely substitute another oil or melted butter in this recipe, it will generally have the same texture, but just taste different.)
- Can You Use Other Citrus Besides Oranges Yes! The orange is for both flavor and acid to help activate the baking soda. Use any other citrus in the same amounts for the zest and juice. I have made this cake with lemons and blood orange as well, and they both turned out great. And gorgeous.
Variations and More Recipes
If you, like me, hoard olive oil by the half gallon jugs but can't remember the last time you bought butter—it was probably back during Thanksgiving tbh—olive oil cakes will be your go-to cake. Get this recipe down as a foundation, then try making these variations on Olive Oil Cake.
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake is the lemon version of this cake, dairy-free and baked in a round pan
- Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Candied Rosemary recipe, dairy-free, baked in round cake pan
- Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, dairy-free, baked in round pan
- Walnut Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Figs, dairy-free, made with half of the regular wheat flour replaced with "walnut flour".
And yes, I love Olive Oil Cakes, why do you ask?
Wine Pairing for Orange Olive Oil Cake
My suggested wine pairing for this Orange Olive Oil Cake is the same sweet dessert wine used in the recipe, Quady "Essensia" made with orange muscat grapes. Obviously a natural pairing because the wine is in the cake, Quady 'Essensia' also has notes or apricots and oranges.
Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Merry Edwards is a sweet dessert wine with notes of "honeysuckle, candied ginger, toasted almonds and lemon meringue," so it's perfect with the flavors in the cake. You could also use this wine to substitute for the orange liqueur in the recipe.
Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe
- 1 orange, skin scrubbed, for slicing
- 2 oranges for 2 tablespoons of zest and ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup orange liqueur like Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or sweet orange wine
- garnish for serving: confectioner’s sugar, fresh berries, orange zest
- Heat Oven: Heat the oven to 350° F.
- Prepare Cake Pan: Prep 9-inch cake pan with baking spray or rub with a little olive oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Prepare Oranges: Slice 1 orange, unpeeled, into ⅛-inch thick slices. Using the largest slices from the center of the orange, line the parchment with the orange slices in concentric circles. Squeeze any remaining slices for their juice into a separate small bowl.
- Zest remaining 2 oranges to make at least 2 tablespoons. Squeeze oranges for at least ¼ cup of juice.
- Combine Liquid Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, orange liqueur.
- Add Dry Ingredients: In a second mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. Add the dry mix to the olive oil mixture and stir until just combined.
- Bake Olive Oil Cake: Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, checking at 45 minutes with a cake tester. Cake is done when top is medium golden brown and tester comes out clean.
- Cool Cake and Serve: Allow cake to cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cake cook completely for an additional hour.