Citrus Olive Oil Cake


Every once in awhile a recipe comes along that instantly goes into your “keeper” file (or Pinterest board). My infatuation with olive oil cakes stems from a version I had a few years ago at Market Table in the West Village. I shared a piece with my dear friend/culinary soul mate Kathleen and we were both floored. It had a rosemary-infused whipped cream and in my memory, it was perfect.

The cake became a staple during my catering days. I could make it in advance, the only type of desserts I really do. The garnishes were endless – blood orange compote, thyme whipped cream, cacao nibs, pine nut brittle. I often used Greek yogurt in the batter to add a bit of tang, but I found it weighed down the cake a bit. This version, my favorite so far, has buttermilk, ground almonds, lots of citrus zest, vanilla bean paste and orange oil. If you’ve only used vanilla extract, get your hands on the paste. It has flecks of pure vanilla bean and is just…yum. Pure orange oil is also worth seeking out. It gives a real hit of orange flavor (a little goes a long way).

With citrus season in full swing, this is a cake to make now. It’s a keeper.

Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds or almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil 
  • Zest and juice of 1 large orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil (optional)
  • Pinch orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch salt
  • Hot water, to thin


Heat oven to 350F. Rub an 8 or 9″ cake pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder, almond meal and salt in a bowl. In a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and orange oil, citrus zest and orange juice. Gradually beat in buttermilk and oil.

Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, beating a about 30 seconds between additions. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer periodically. Do not over beat (this will make the cake tough).

Transfer cake batter into prepped pan. Bake for about 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan about 15 minutes. Run an offset spatula or thin, sharp knife around the edge of cake and turn onto a serving plate. Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the cake.

To make the glaze: whisk together the sugar, orange oil, vanilla, salt. Add hot water, a teaspoon at a time to thin the glaze to a pourable consistency. Pour over warm cake.