This easy orange olive oil cake is perfect for when you want a stunning and elegant dessert but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. It’s loaded with citrus flavor, is incredibly moist, and can be as simple or as extravagant as you’d like. Enjoy a slice with a cup of coffee or tea, or dress it up with some whipped cream and fresh orange segments.
Olive oil cakes use olive oil as the main fat instead of vegetable oil or butter. One of the best characteristics of olive oil cake is that they stay moist for days. Plus, the olive oil adds a fruity, slightly spiced flavor to cake. Olive oil cakes are an important part of olive harvest celebrations in the Mediterranean.
Ingredients in Olive Oil Cake
- White whole-wheat flour: we like to bake with whole-wheat flour around here. Aside from the nutritional benefits, whole-wheat flour develops gluten at a much slower rate than all-purpose flour. Why does that matter? For starters, it decreases the risk of over-mixing the batter drastically. And secondly, it makes for a very light and tender cake crumb.
- Baking powder: important for adding lift to this moist cake.
- Large eggs: it’s important to use eggs labeled as “large” not medium, not Jumbo, you need large eggs. A large egg, out of shell, should weight about 50 grams. Using the correct size of egg is important for achieving the correct texture. If too small of an egg is used, there won’t be enough moisture and fat. Too large and too much moisture will be added.
- Sugar: granulated sugar is used in the cake and on top to create a lovely, crunchy crust.
- Orange zest: use a microplane to finely grate the orange zest. Then save the oranges for serving with the cake.
- Vanilla extract: for the best flavor, use pure vanilla extract. Vanilla bean paste would also be great.
- Olive oil: use whatever olive oil you enjoy the most. If you love the rich and bold flavor of extra-virgin olive oil, use that! And if you don’t want the olive oil to be overly present, use a light or regular olive oil.
- Whole milk: make sure you use whole milk—not low-fat dairy milk. We haven’t tested this, but if you want to make this vegan, use a non-dairy milk such as soy milk or almond milk.
- Orange liqueur: A hearty splash of orange liqueur boosts the orange flavor and gives the cake more depth. We like to use Grand Marnier. Can you leave the Grand Marnier out? Sure, just use 2 tablespoons orange juice instead.
How to make olive oil cake
- Start by whipping the eggs in a stand mixer until foamy.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Add the sugar, orange zest and vanilla and whip, on high speed, until thick, fluffy, and pale in color. It should be stunning!
- Slowly drizzle in the oil.
- Alternating between the two, mix in the flour and milk. Mix in the orange liqueur.
- Pour the batter into a greased springform pan and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until the top is deep golden brown.
What Kind of Olive Oil to Use + Can You Taste It?
Determining what kind of olive oil to use comes down to how much olive oil you want to taste (or not taste). We like to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil but that makes for a robust-flavored cake. Here’s some guidelines on how to choose what oil to use:
- For a mildly-flavored cake: use “light” olive oil
- For a slight note of olive oil: use regular olive oil or “light” extra-virgin olive oil
- For a strong-flavored cake: use regular extra-virgin olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil labeled as “robust”
Tips For Making Orange Olive Oil Cake
Use Good Quality Olive Oil
Olive oil cake a majority of its flavor from, you guessed it, olive oil! Use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. I prefer spanish olive oil here, or an olive oil labeled “robust.” If you don’t like the strong flavor of extra-virgin olive oil, go ahead and use an extra-virgin olive oil labeled “smooth” or “mild.”
Whip the Eggs
Whipping whole eggs (not just whites) with sugar helps to create an olive oil cake that’s airy and fine textured while still being sturdy enough to hold a good amount of whipped cream and oranges.
Sturdy is important here since a batter made with olive oil is heavier than one made with whipped butter, whipping whole eggs helps with that.
Add a Sweet, Crackly Top
Just about any cake benefits from something crunchy. Right before baking, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the batter. As it bakes, the sugar will create a nice sugary crust. If you don’t want that added bit of sugar try sprinkling sliced almonds over top for a finish that’s both crunchy and stunning.
This Orange Olive Oil Cake can be served on its own simply with a cup of coffee or tea. To dress it up a bit and to make more of a statement, top the cake with dreamy whipped cream and cardamom-spiced orange segments.
Orange zest, an orange syrup, sliced kumquats, fresh berries and toasted sliced almonds are other great topping options. We also love to dollop orange marmalade or orange curd over top.
Olive oil cake should be moist but not oily. If your cake came out oily it’s most likely that the ingredients were not measured correctly and the ingredient ratios are off.
Most store-bought cakes are made with oil instead of butter because they stay moist much longer than cakes baked using butter. They also have a longer shelf life.
This Lemon Olive Oil Cake is our favorite lemon cake recipe!
If your recipe calls for oil but you’d rather use butter, you can replace the oil with the same amount of melted butter.
However, if a recipe calls for butter and you want to use oil, you’ll need to use a quarter less oil than butter called for. So if the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use ¾ cup neutral-flavored oil.
More Easy Cake Recipes
If you like this recipe then you’ve gotta try our Lemon Olive Oil Cake!
Our Spiced Sweet Potato Cake is a great alternative to pumpkin cake. It makes a great coffee cake, but can also be served for dessert.
For something totally different—try our decadent Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe
Orange Olive Oil Cake
- 1 ¾ cups (226g) white whole-wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs (150g)
- ¾ cup (147g) sugar + more for top
- 4 oranges, zested and oranges reserved for serving
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (161g) extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup (175g) whole milk
- 3 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Olive oil for drizzling
Orange Olive Oil Cake
- Heat oven to 350ºF with rack set in middle position. Grease 9-inch springform pan (if your springform pan is prone to leaking, wrap the base in a piece of foil).
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl; set aside.
- Using stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip eggs on medium speed until light foamy, about 1 minute.
- With mixer running, add sugar, 2 tablespoons minced orange zest, and vanilla. Increase speed to high, and whip until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to medium and, with mixer running, slowly stream in oil; mix 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low and add half of the flour; mix until incorporated, about 1 minute, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Stream in milk and grand marnier and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add remaining flour mixture and mix just until incorporated, about 1 minute, scraping down side of bowl as needed. (and scraping zest from white tines)
- Transfer batter to prepared pan; evenly sprinkle top with about 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake cake until top is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with few crumbs attached, 48–50 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove side of pan and let cake cool completely, about 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, peel and segment reserved zested oranges; squeezing juice from membrane over orange segments. Toss orange segments with cardamom.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat heavy cream in a chilled metal bowl until bubbly. With mixer running on medium speed, stream in 2 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Spread whipped cream over cooled cake and top with oranges; cut into wedges and serve with additional olive oil.
- Up to 1 day: cover cake with foil and store at room temperature.
- 1–5 days: transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
- Triple Citrus: use a combination of lemon, lime and orange zest instead of just orange zest.
- Orange & Rosemary: add some minced fresh rosemary to the batter for an herby note—one of my favorite flavor combinations!.
- Orange extract: use orange extract instead of the vanilla extract.
- Blood Oranges: use blood orange zest in the cake and top with blood oranges.
- Lemon: try our Lemon Olive Oil Cake!
- Orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Gran Gala add deep orange flavor without too much liquid. If you don’t have or would rather not use liqueur go ahead and use 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice instead.