This Greek olive oil cake is as fluffy and moist as they come, thanks to its not-so-secret-ingredient. It’s a rich, slightly citrusy cake that is not too sweet but still fulfills any craving for a decadent, indulgent dessert.
When I first heard of olive oil cake, I was apprehensive as to how the two could go together. When baking, I’d only ever used olive oil for savory eats like focaccia or zaatar bread, so I wondered how it could make for a sweet, indulgent dessert. But, after making this Greek olive oil cake recipe, the only question left was, “can I have more?”
The olive oil in this cake creates a rich flavor and a soft, incredibly moist texture that I have always tried to achieve when baking. With bright notes of citrus in each bite, this cake satisfies dessert cravings without being overly sweet, similar to other internationally-inspired desserts like nutty Egyptian basbousa.
Though it may not be as decadent as something like gooey chocolate-filled babka, this cake is the perfect simple-yet-elegant crowd-pleasing dessert — it even makes a great brunch treat dressed up with fresh berries or homemade whipped cream. Don’t blame me if you wind up eating the whole thing yourself!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- All-Purpose Flour – Ideal for cake baking. Cake flour could work for this recipe, but your cake might be a bit less dense, whereas using double-zero flour might make it slightly denser.
- Sugar – Plain white sugar is all you need for this recipe.
- Baking Powder – To help the cake rise. If you don’t have any, I usually replace it with a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar.
- Baking Soda – Another rising agent that makes this cake nice and fluffy.
- Kosher Salt – Helps to extract notes of sweetness in the cake. Substituting with regular table salt is fine but not exactly the same because of the granule size.
- Olive Oil – The star of the show! For this recipe, it’s best to use extra-virgin olive oil. Don’t get the most expensive bottle in town, but do try to use a higher-quality oil if possible.
- Greek Yogurt – Plain Greek yogurt adds extra moisture and nutritional value. Use an orange-flavored variation for extra citrus.
- Eggs – I use regular, whole eggs for this cake.
- Orange Juice – Freshly squeezed orange juice and zest add a burst of citrus to every bite. Be sure to save some slices for garnish! Some versions of this cake are made with lemon, but if you use it as a substitute, you might want to add a little extra sweetener.
HOW TO MAKE OLIVE OIL CAKE
1. Prep For Baking. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 350ºF.
2. Juice Orange. Zest one tablespoon of the peel first, avoiding the bitter white pith beneath the surface. Then, squeeze fresh juice from the fruit and set both aside for later.
3. Mix Dry Ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
4. Add Wet Ingredients. Create a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add the olive oil, yogurt, and eggs. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Add the orange juice and zest until there are no lumps in the batter.
5. Bake. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Serve. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar if desired. Let the cake cool before slicing.
Is Olive Oil Cake Healthier?
Though there is still an ample amount of sugar in this cake, olive oil cake does tend to be a bit healthier than your typical birthday cake. Olive oil boasts plenty of nutritional benefits and tends to contain healthier fats than most butters do.
What Ingredients Make Cake Moist?
There are many secret techniques and ingredients that people use to make cakes more moist, but this recipe shows us that there are two ingredients that create the perfect spongy texture: oil and yogurt.
What Does Olive Oil Cake Taste Like?
Though not super sweet like most pastries, olive oil cake doesn’t necessarily have a savory taste. The oil adds a richer, bolder flavor than regular butter does while keeping the cake fluffy and moist. With Greek yogurt, citrus, and less than a cup of sugar, it has a refined, wholesome taste overall.
Which Kind of Olive Oil Should You Bake With?
With cake, you want the olive oil to work its magic without overpowering the flavors of the other ingredients. It’s always better to use a higher-quality oil, but at the very least, you should make sure to use extra-virgin olive oil for cake.
Greek Olive Oil Cake
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Zest 1 tablespoon of orange peel, set aside. Juice orange and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Create a well in the flour mix and add olive oil, yogurt and eggs. Using a rubber spatula, stir into the dry ingredients.
- Add orange juice, zest and fold batter until combined and there are no lumps.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool before slicing. Serve dusted with powdered sugar (as pictured), optional.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.