Olive Oil Cake

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Olive oil cake is ultra-tender and moist, with added richness from yogurt in the mix.

Olive oil loaf cake with white glaze on a rack

Why bake a cake with olive oil, you ask?

I have asked the same. Cakes, even our standard cake mixes, often call for oil. The reason: oil makes for a tender, moist crumb. Typically oil-based cake recipes call for neutral oil, vegetable, or seed oil (canola, safflower, etc.).

Olive oil is a terrific addition for adding its own notes, a complexity, to the flavor of the cake. With chocolate olive oil cakes, that complexity may not be quite as noticeable, yet still a terrific combo given the bitter and complex flavor notes in chocolate.

Another important ingredient. Or two.

My olive oil cake recipe is meant to allow the flavor of the oil to shine through. To my thinking that means keeping other flavorings subtle, and rounding out the richness with yogurt, one of my favorite cake ingredients. The acid in the yogurt does its job perfectly, adding even more moisture and tenderness. For yet another layer of brightness, a shower of lemon zest woken up with a swift rubbing together with the sugar is a perfect compliment. Discovery: even your dry lemons that have sat out on the counter too long can zest just fine into your cake….

Lemon zest in a sugar bowl

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Eggs
  • Whole milk labneh (or Greek yogurt)
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Orange blossom water

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

Step 1: Position an oven rack to the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Use a paper towel or pastry brush to coat an 8-inch loaf pan with a couple of drops of olive oil. Coat the pan with flour, knocking out any excess.

Step 2: In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers to release the beautiful lemon flavor. Whisk in the olive oil, eggs, and labneh.

Olive oil for cake batter in a measuring cup

Step 4: Fold in the dry ingredients until combined. The batter will be lumpy.

Step 5: Spread evenly in the prepared loaf pan and bake until deep golden brown, about 50 minutes.

olive oil cake batter in a bowl

Step 6: Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and labneh until combined. Add the orange blossom water. Adjust by adding more confectioners’ sugar or labneh to create a thick, pourable glaze.

Step 7: Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the cake to a rack set over a piece of parchment that will catch any glaze drippings. When the cake is completely cooled, spoon the glaze over top. Allow the glaze to harden briefly before serving.

Baked olive oil cake in a loaf pan

Tips

  1. You’re making this cake often and want to change it up? Try orange or lime zest in place of lemon. Or use vanilla extract, coconut extract, or orange blossom and rose water instead of citrus.
  2. The same goes for the glaze: flavor to your heart’s content with vanilla, coconut, lemon, orange, or lime. Or top with a dusting of chopped pistachio for festive color and flavor. Very pretty to color the glaze pink and top with pistachios.
  3. The cake serves as a wonderful shortcake with fruit compotes of any kind or as the cake layers in a trifle.

Storing Leftovers

Refrigeration: This olive oil pound cake can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Try to slice the loaf as you go, and not slice more than you’ll be eating in one sitting, to prevent the cake from drying out.

Freezing: If you’re storing this cake for more than a few days, I recommend freezing it to maintain its freshness. Wrap either the whole unglazed loaf or each slice with a couple of layers of plastic wrap before putting it in a freezer bag. You can keep them frozen for up to 3 months.

What does olive oil cake taste like?

Olive oil cake relies on the oil for subtle, fabulous flavor, so make sure you are using high-quality extra virgin olive oil! It’s incredibly flavorful with a moist and tender texture thanks to the combination of the oil, labneh, and egg yolks. I love to employ my Lebanese Extra Virgin Olive Oil for this cake.

Olive oil loaf cake with white glaze dripping down the side

With Sugar on Top.

Many olive oil cake recipes are very plain, in a round cake pan ending with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.  A round cake suggests something more, something party-esque. This is one reason why I use a loaf pan for my olive oil cake. This cake in all of its tender deliciousness is in the tea-cake category, a slice with a cup in the afternoon or after an easy dinner or when a friend stops in to say hi hi.

I wanted simplicity out of my EVOO cake recipe (no mixer), especially in a January post-holiday moment, but plain I just can’t do (see this, this, this, etc.).

Enter the glaze topping. A thick, shiny shellac of a glaze is so easy to stir up with confectioners’ sugar and yogurt. A whisper of orange blossom water. Of course optional, but really adds something special in the simplicity of this cake.

Olive oil loaf cake with white glaze on a rack
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5 from 1 vote

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

By Maureen Abood
Olive oil cake is ultra-tender and moist, with added richness from labneh. The cake is topped with a thick, shiny glaze flavored with aromatic orange blossom water.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more to coat the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk labneh

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons labneh or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water

Instructions 

  • Position an oven rack to the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Use a paper towel or napkin to coat an 8-inch loaf pan with a couple of drops of olive oil. Coat the pan with flour, knocking out any excess.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers to release the beautiful lemon flavor. Whisk in the olive oil, eggs, and labneh.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients until combined. The batter will be lumpy.
  • Spread evenly in the prepared loaf pan and bake until deep golden brown, about 50 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and labneh until combined. Add the orange blossom water. Adjust adding more confectioners' sugar or labneh to create a thick, pourable glaze.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the cake to a rack set over a piece of parchment that will catch any glaze drippings. When the cake is completely cooled, spoon the glaze over top. Allow the glaze to harden briefly before serving.

Notes

Refrigeration: This olive oil pound cake can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Try to slice the loaf as you go, and not slice more than you’ll be eating in one sitting, to prevent the cake from drying out.
Freezing: If you’re storing this cake for more than 5 days, I recommend freezing it to maintain its freshness. Wrap either the whole unglazed loaf or each slice with a couple of layers of plastic wrap before putting it in a freezer bag. You can keep them frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 278mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 8
Calories: 333
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10 Comments

  1. Which is it? Baking powder or baking soda? Love your recipes! They are so close and in some cases identical to my late mom’s recipes. Can’t beat Lebanese cuisine.

  2. I am making this olive oil cake today! The recipe I printed from your site originally had 2 tsp of baking soda.. but in directions said to add baking powder.. glad I caught it. I added Meyer lemon zest ..& Meyer lemon juice to the glaze.

    1. Fabienne, I would use buttermilk or add lemon juice to plain milk, so that you still get the acidic effect (moist, tender crumb) that yogurt lends.

  3. I’ve been wanting to place an order for olive oil. Which one of the oils you sell would be best for this cake?