Almond Olive Oil Cake

Olive oil cakes make me feel like a real health-nut. It is a small part of what draws me to them, mostly I like how they taste. This Gina DePalma recipe may be the best I have come across. The cake itself is made with a healthy dose of olive oil, almond meal, and some citrus. It is bright and beautiful on its own, but the glaze that DePalma suggests makes this one of my new favorite cakes. The brown butter glaze adds a richness that is the perfect compliment to the bright cake. Also, it is pretty.

Many of you will be planning brunches for this weekend, and this cake would be a sweet way to end the meal. It keeps well, and can easily be made a day in advance. Or, do as my mom would do and freeze it.

Thanks again to everyone for the continued comments, emails and tweets regarding the Saveur win. It is very sweet, and encouraging. I always say I have the best readers, and you are proving me right yet again.

Remember to use an olive oil that makes sense in a cake, nothing too peppery. DePalma suggests lightly browned butter in her recipe, I got mine pretty dark and liked it that way.

Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze (adapted slightly from Gina DePalma)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Grated zest of 1/4 a of a medium orange
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • For Glaze:
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • A few drops of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in very thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45-60 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back slightly when touched, and a cake tester comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

When the cake is almost finished cooling, make the glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. When the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. When the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. It will continue to darken as it sits.

While the butter cools, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. Taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. Stir in the toasted almonds. Spread the almonds and glaze onto the top and sides of the cake and let it sit until set and dry.

84 comments to “Almond Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Tim, I did make this cake gluten free and it turned out beautifully :) So, in place of the cup of flour I used 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 1/2 cup of Pamela’s Products Pancake and Baking mix and didn’t adjust the baking powder at all. Wonderful recipe…everyone loved it and no-way can you tell it’s gluten free :) Thanks again. <3

  2. Sherry! That is great news, thanks for letting us know.

  3. ex-Montrealer says:

    May 17th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I want to tell you, Tim, that your blog always wants to make me laugh, cry, and (sometimes) rage at the injustices in both Canada and the US. It’s no wonder that Saveur had the “good taste” (pun intended!!) to name your blog the best of 2012. Congratulations!

    And Tim? You’re torturing me with the photos of this cake! I’m supposed to be on a diet, and how can I stick to my diet with these drool-worthy photos on my oversized monitor? Huhh?!

    My (Canadian) cousin lives in North Carolina with her family. They’re lefties, and she “warned” me before I visited that there are a lot of intolerant people there. Keep on plugging for same-sex marriage. I firmly believe that EVENTUALLY everyone will realize that love comes in different shapes, sizes, flavours [Canadian spelling here!], and savours. As you said there are so many “worthy” injustices to fight over. When will we learn to get along?!

  4. I have never made an olive oil cake but this is on my agenda this weekend. It sound absolutely amazing, and I adore every single flavor of this recipe.
    Thanks so much for sharing something that looks (and most likely tastes!) so delightful!

  5. I have never tried baking with olive oil but I have certainly heard good things. This cake looks simply delicious in every way. Your food photography is beautiful.

    xo Lily

  6. I made this cake today for somebody’s birthday and it was a HUGE hit!! Everybody was raving. One small note though—in the recipe it doesn’t indicate when you are supposed to add the kosher salt to the mix. I caught it and added it right at the end and everything turned out fine, but I assume if should have been included with the other dry ingredients in the beginning when they were set aside? Thanks for the recipe! I love the blog.

  7. Hey Alice, thanks for catching that. I’m glad you liked the cake.

  8. Have just discovered your blog and LOVE it! Must try this cake recipe, delicious!

  9. Absolutely delicious – and so simple – love it ;)

  10. Bronwyn Maloney says:

    June 5th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I made this yesterday, and it came out beautifully! I will make it again.
    I used Tangerines instead of Oranges, which worked nicely.

  11. Wow! This recipe looks great! I would make it right now but the family are sleeping so I probably shouldn’t start crashing around in the kitchen. As I’m gluten free, I will substitute with GF Flour. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. I made this over the weekend. It turned out perfectly. Everyone loved it. The cake flavors are rather subtle, the glaze is wonderful, and the whole package wasn’t overly sweet.

    Also, I noticed that the cake itself is actually dairy-free. I have a lot of dairy-free friends. And I think the glaze would be good (not as good but good) without the butter.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  13. I’m new to your blog. your olive oil cake looks delish, the blog as a whole is beautiful, and you are right: people should evolve faster (re your marriage post above.) Meanwhile, thanks for being yourself.

  14. Just baked the cake and we had it with our afternoon. Very delicious cake with a delicate flavour. Love it. Thank you for sharing the recipe

  15. Just made this cake minus the orange, but added honey to the batter and topped it with quartered fresh figs drizzled with honey, and sliced almonds before baking…delicious and beautiful! Thank you!

  16. Although i appreciate the irony of putting a brown butter glaze on an olive oil cake, i’m curious about trying something more like… an olive oil glaze. all of your recipes look delicious. now i need to try the whole wheat shortbread, too.

  17. Anna San Fran says:

    January 19th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Finally got around to making this. The absolute easiest and most delicious cake ever! I doubled the recipe, and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the AP flour. i served it to a crowd and most of my guests wanted the recipe. I added a step and brushed the still-warm cakes with Amaretto liquor. The cakes did not need the moisture, but it added another layer of flavor. The leftovers lasted another 4 days. Thanks for this Tim, and for your excellent website!

  18. VCambridge says:

    March 15th, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I love this cake, especially since I am currently eating dairy free and there are few delicious dessert options. I made the cake with a simple lemon glaze (lemon juice and confectioners sugar) and it came out great. Thank you!

  19. LOVE your blog and this cake! Wow! Both your writing and the cake are fresh, entertaining, and delicious!

  20. Thanks, Lilly!

  21. Just made this cake last night and it was delicious! I substituted white whole wheat flour for the white flour and it was still wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. I want to make this tonight to serve tomorrow. Do you think I should just keep the cake on the counter or in the fridge overnight. And would you recommend glazing tonight or just waiting until tomorrow?


  23. Addicted to the healthy wholesome goodness that emanates from this moist & truly delicious cake!!!

    Make it twice a week:-)) My wife and I eat & share it amongst amazed friends who drop by for tea!!
    WINNER :-D X

  24. I almost always use olive oil for cakes as they are always moist.
    I quite forget to mention this (why should I, as for me, it is is normal) to visitors or when I give gifts.
    A lot of people are surprised by it when they ask for the recipes. I am surprised half of Europe have not given up the other fats in cakes by now as they must have all passed it about by now.
    I was dubious too, but as I read it in a muffin book I just assumed it was a slightly different and quick way to cook. I did not realise how moist the cakes would be, that they never stick in the pans anymore and they are still lovely after freezing. I would say, do try it and see for yourself!

  25. cannot get out of pan. yes i cooled it 10 minutes as described and yes i greased and floured the pan. ggrrrrr

  26. This cake is absolutely incredible. Although I am tempted to layer it with almond paste! Any thoughts on how to do this?

  27. Hi Julie, I am glad you liked the cake. Almond paste is awfully sweet, I am not sure adding that much sweetness is a good idea and I am not sure how you would do it. But if you try, let us know.

  28. This has become a go-to cake for me to make for dinner parties. Even people who insist they aren’t “dessert people” love it – I think because it’s light and not too sweet. So perfect. Thanks!

  29. Made this cake the the other day. It was amazing!

  30. This cake looks beautiful. I made it this morning. While it was baking the top edges smoothed out nicely, but in the center/top there was a mound of bubbles that never broke and turned quite dark. The cake looked quite ugly when it was finished – though tasted great. Any ideas what happened?

  31. Just made it, but in gluten free version- looks amazing!

  32. Hi! I want to make a pretty layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and she really wants an almond cake; do you think this would work well in layers, with a slightly thicker frosting, or would it be very heavy?
    Also, I would love any recommendations for frosting ideas. I want to mix in cardamom between the layers, but otherwise I’m not sure.

  33. Hi Isabella- I don’t think this would make a good layer cake and I don’t think frosting it is a good idea. But it is a lovely cake as is. Maybe you can find a more traditional almond layer cake elsewhere?

  34. Made this last night and it was wonderful. We used lemon instead of orange, and topped it with a lemon syrup which we mixed some olive oil into instead of the glaze and served it with yoghurt. So moist – we finished the whole cake between 4 of us!