Olive Oil Cake

Saveur lied.

In what world does a cake this dense and thick – and with a TABLESPOON of baking powder – only need to bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes? Either someone over there is baking at a crazy altitude or they’re on crack.

I’m obsessed with olive oil cake at the moment. See, I was in New York City not too long ago for a work-related conference. Driven to dining alone by a friend who ditched me, I went to L’Artusi for dinner. The meal, something I’ll blog about later, was amazing but the highlight for me was dessert. Of course. And dessert was an olive oil cake with creme fraiche.

The waiter had told me it was a hard sell for most diners, but to me it sounded like heaven. Why? Because months ago I’d had a life-changing olive oil at Zaytinya. Yep. It was that good. I totally understood why olive oil marketers are out to get American grocery shoppers with labels and fancy terminology of all sorts. A good olive oil is noticeable. A good olive oil is worth it. And you probably aren’t going to get it at Safeway.

So…off I went to Whole Paycheck, I mean, Whole Foods to try and make sense of the olive oil section. It was frustrating. In the end I asked a poor, unwitting shopper nearby what he thought was a good brand and went with that. To be honest, I can’t even remember what it’s called. But it worked just fine. And you know what? Any olive oil would probably work fine-especially in the name of not driving yourself crazy.

This cake is among the easier things I’ve ever baked. Pretty much we’re talking about dumping ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together. That easy? That easy!

If you have someone in your life who doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, this is the cake for them. One of my coworkers who usually bypasses my sweet treats came back for seconds and thirds of this savory dessert.

I think the cake is wonderful. Its density makes it feel rich and decadent. The subtle undertones of the olive oil hit the spot for me. As a snack, it is ideal. As a full on dessert-I wanted more. I wanted something special…a strawberry, red wine reduction, a dollop of creme fraiche, a summer berry pure or even a peach ‘n bourbon mash. Not a lot of the something special, just a drizzle. Something to dress it up for a dinner party almost.

I hope you guys are intrigued enough to make this bad boy. It’s worth it!


Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from Saveur Issue #75

1 tbsp. butter
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. flour
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp. lemon zest
3⁄4 cup quality extra-virgin olive oil
2⁄3 cup milk
2 tbsp. Grand Marnier or something like it
1 tbsp. baking powder (Is anyone else going holy cow! Did I read that right?!)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare a 9″ cake pan however you generally like to. If your bakeware isn’t non-stick then flour and grease it. I like to put a round of parchment paper at the bottom of mine, which are as non-stick as they come. Set prepared pan aside.

2. Beat eggs and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add remaining 3 cups flour, lemon zest, oil, milk, and liqueur and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add baking powder and stir until thoroughly combined.

3. Spoon batter into pan and smooth out top with the back of the spoon. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean and top is slightly browning (it’ll be more like golden freckles), about 60 minutes. Transfer cake to a wire rack to let cool completely, in its pan.

4 thoughts on “Olive Oil Cake

  1. sounds delish….i really wish there were some function on your site so i could email myself your recipes easily or save as a pdf or something.


  2. This sounds good. I enjoy baking about as much as I enjoy going to the dentist, but I do it a few times a year. This may make the list of cakes on that special day, usually the day after my semi-annual checkup. Cheers and thanks for the good articles.

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