Orange-Walnut Cake

They don’t all need to be showstoppers.

Sometimes, you just want a simple piece of cake, a weeknight dessert in the tradition of the Busy Day Cake. This orange and walnut flavored cake made with olive oil (practically health food!) is perfect eaten out of hand, or plated with some whipped cream. It is a thoroughly satisfying cake that will keep in your cake dome for a few days guaranteeing everyone in your home a satisfying dessert (or snack) whenever they need one.

I hope everyone is following the Piglet tournament of books over on Food52. I really enjoy this annual cookbook competition which pits books I love (The Mozza Cookbook, Super Natural Everyday, Cooking in the Moment) against books I definitely didn’t love (Momofuku Milkbar CookbookThe Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià ). It turns out everyone has an opinion, even if some of them are wrong. ; ) The competition is especially satisfying when the judges take it seriously (I really enjoyed these two) and turn a critical eye to the books they are reviewing. I hope Ina Garten’s half-assed review convinces the ladies in charge of Food52 that they need to pick good writers, rather than celebrities, to judge the books. In any case, it is a fun time over at Food52 and I am excited to see which book is crowned champion.

Orange-Walnut Cake (adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place parchment paper round in bottom of pan and spray paper.

Grind walnuts in food processor until finely ground but not powdery. Combine ground walnuts, flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs in large bowl until frothy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until light, thick, and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Gradually add walnut-flour mixture; then add orange juice, orange peel, and olive oil, beating just until blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet, and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

Release pan sides. Carefully move cake onto platter. Sprinkle cake with confectioners sugar and serve.

49 comments to “Orange-Walnut Cake”

  1. This looks delicious! I love olive oil in sweets, and this combo sounds superb. The cookbook tournament sounds great – I’ll go check it out. (I’m a Heidi Swanson fan, too.)

  2. Yum!

  3. I just made a kinnow orange cinnamon cake! I love citrusy desserts. Im definitely going to make this with this precious bottle of orange infused olive oil i have (precious because i cant find it anywhere in India and it was brought especially for me all the way from the US). This is going to be one special cake :-).

  4. Thanks for letting us know how long the cake will last in the cake stand :)

  5. You had me at “Orange”. :-) Thanks for the pointer to Food52.

  6. The cake looks and sounds lovely; I’m thinking it would be amazing with some candied kumquats that are on my list for this week. Thanks also for the link to Food52! I hadn’t been over there before, and it’s a great site!

  7. Looks delicious.
    My cake plate has been calling to me for an easy to make, durable recipe. Tis looks perfect!

  8. Well this cake is kind of stopping my show over here, so thanks!

  9. I would love to try this, but with different nuts…(allergies). Any suggestion on what might be a good substitute? Almonds?

  10. Hi Carole, You could certainly try almonds (I would lightly toast them first). I could also give pecans a try, but pecans have a stronger flavor so you might want to increase the orange zest to 2 tablespoons. Let us know if you give it a try!

  11. I love using olive oil in carrot cake so bet this would be just as good here. Love the idea of walnuts & orange together too, maybe with a little spice too :-)

  12. I will expect nothing but moist citrus-y sweetness when I make this…worst case scenario if mine doesn’t taste as good as yours looks, I can always find comfort in knowing that there’s nothing a few dozen layers of powdered sugar can’t fix!

  13. This cake looks so tasty:) I just bought Bon Appetit Desserts last week; It’s a great cookbook!

  14. on my “to bake”list is ms. edna lewis’s busy day cake…& now i must add this as well!
    i enjoy baking with olive oil in cakes & i have baked sweet amandine’s take:

  15. These types of cakes are the cakes of my childhood and hold a special place in my heart. These cakes are indeed not overdone. They aim to comfort, not impress and so these are the cakes that always win me over when it actually comes to choosing what to bake and eat. I still drool over the drop dead gorgeous cakes that stop you in your track but this walnut and orange cake is what I would choose to eat.

  16. Busy day/everyday cakes are my absolute favorite!! I will have to try this one. (And also, that cake dome of yours is lovely!)

  17. So with you on the Ina review! C’mon, really?

  18. Looks deliciously moist – perfect for my next cup of coffee. Will keep this recipe for sure – thanks for sharing!

  19. i’ve been wanting to make this ever since I saw this 2 days. So here I am(in Shanghai) ..on a friday night…just back from work..all set to make it. VERY excited!! What a GREAT website. I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!

  20. I made this last night and served it to friends as an after-dinner surprise. Fan. Tas. Tic. Poured some cognac as an accompaniment. General happiness was the (not unexpected) result. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  21. The cake looks wonderful. And so, so, so agree with you on Ina. What was with that?

  22. I made it yesterday and it turned out great! My bf loved it :) I ran out of olive oil so used vegetable oil instead. Thanks for the recipe!

  23. David and Jenna- yay! Glad to hear the cake was a success. Thanks for letting me know…

  24. My co-workers are going to love this – it turned out beautifully. I love your site but rarely have time to make any of the wonderful things you post. However, I’ve now made the last three and look forward to my “weekend with Tim” as a way to relax and do what I truly love. Thank you!

  25. I’m always adding zest to my baked goods and have moved to savory dishes now. Time to get on this cake. Looks marvelous!

  26. I made this AWESOME cake yesterday (saturday noon) and it was GONE by Sunday at noon. It is such a great cake that i am now a devoted follower and i really appreciate the recipe. I always look for easy to make cakes that are healthy and no butter or shortening, and this ‘takes the cake’ (sorry) for an olive oil based cake. it was airy, light, moist, and you can taste the nuts and the orange, and its really nice with coffee. I sent it to all my friends too.

  27. Made this cake tonight for a Top Chef get together with friends. It was a hit! So good. Looking forward to leftovers with coffee. Thanks.

  28. Mark- awesome! Glad to hear it. I really enjoyed the leftover cake for breakfast, hope you did too.

  29. Thinking pine nuts and maybe a touch of walnut oil would work too, looks great. A good cake to warm a winter day:)

  30. ps – this cake is unbelievably good. my partner and i are bananas for finding good olive oil cakes. this one is the best by far.

  31. Oh man- I have been making this cake for years and it’s my favorite. So quick to throw together and delicious! I’ve topped it with a lightly sweetened whipped cream/mascarpone too for a little extra decadence. :)

  32. this is a lovely recipe! i made this tonight, didn’t pulse all the walnuts thoroughly, so there were some bits to be crunched upon when eating, which i enjoyed. squeezed a bunch of tangerines as well as oranges that were around the house, and it was Wonderful. nearly the whole cake is gone already. ate it with yogurt, sweetened with a bit of honey. delicious.

  33. I made this cake yesterday for my family’s Easter get-together. It was so easy (I think juicing and zesting the oranges took the most time) and turned out so good! The cake was a hit at the reunion!

  34. I made this recipe today and it was so easy and it’s so delicious. I shared some with my brother and he said that if it a coffee shop near him sold this he’d be over there every day!

  35. I’m thinking of making the cake with out any nuts. Do you have any suggestions?

  36. Hey Micah- I would just search for a different olive oil cake online. The walnuts are pretty vital to the success of this cake. You could try this, substituting the lemons with oranges:

  37. Yes, they DO all need to be showstoppers. Just kidding, I love me an everyday cake!

  38. How do you think this would be with a handful of chocolate thrown in? I need to fill the orangeless chocolateless void in my life.

  39. Nuala- you know me well enough to not ask this question-I don’t like chocolate. I think it would ruin a perfectly good cake. But go ahead, if you must. ; )

  40. And you just posted about that very thing. Oops. Thanks anyway : )

  41. If you try it with chocolate, let us know! There are more people like you than me, so others might find it useful. Thanks, and happy baking!

  42. I couldn’t do it!! I was *this* close to throwing in a little bittersweet chocolate, but tasted the batter first and it was so deliciously perfect on its own. Hopefully its even better when it comes out of the oven : )

  43. I made this yesterday, and it was phenomenal. I’ve never used olive oil in baking before, and I was concerned that the flavor would be too pronounced. It was not. A moist, delicious, sophisticated little cake. Thanks!

  44. Your posts are lovely and the recipes are so helpful – I have tried a number of them and they always turn out well (like the caramel cake which is now my go-to birthday cake!). I wonder if it would be workable to use lemon instead of orange here?

  45. Hi Jia- it would technically work, but I do not think it would be very good. If you’re looking for a lemon recipe, I would look elsewhere and save this for when you are wanting to bake with oranges. Happy baking! Thanks for the nice message.

  46. My daughter gave me a bottle of blood orange infused olive oil or Christmas- never having made this cake before, I’d like to ask if you think that would be too much orange.

  47. Hi Tim. My family and I absolutely love this cake. As a result we’ve made it countless times. It’s actually in the oven now (request of my mum). My question is, the first few times I made it there were no problems. It was delicious. But after about the first 2 or 3 times, the cake without fail sinks and quite a lot. A little puzzled as to why. I don’t overbeat amd the temperature is the same etc. its odd because it used to be just fine. Would you have any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

  48. Made this for a brunch I had this last weekend and it was a huge hit…It is the second time I have made it and it is a no fail, moist and delicious cake. Amazing in its simplicity. It did sink slightly in the center and I am wondering if I over beat it? It was cooked perfectly so I am not sure what happened with that.

  49. Hi Tim!

    I’ve been perusing your website and stealing recipes and altering them a little bit here and there. I saw the comment about adding chocolate! I personally love orange chocolate so I threw in about a cup of chocolate chunks and the cake was delicious. I also added a bit more orange zest to balance out the powerful chocolate chunks. :) Love your blog.

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