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. Olive oil cake is a favorite in our house. I usually make it with oil that I’ve infused with meyer lemons, but I love the idea of adding a nutty aspect and brown butter? Yes! Thanks for this.

  2. Wow…beautiful pictures!

  3. That glaze looks delicious, and I love the sliced almonds in there. One question – is almond flour like oat flour in that it can be made at home with a food processor? Or is it a better option to buy it?

  4. This looks delicious! On Sunday I made a yogurt cake (orangette’s recipe) with olive oil in place of canola oil and it was wonderful. I’ve started making things like zucchini bread with olive oil too and it always comes out great.

  5. Hi Ileana- I always buy it, but mostly out of laziness. I have occasionally come across people writing about making their own, so do a quick search to read about techniques. I would guess it is easier to get almond meal (coarser grind) than flour at home.

  6. wow, it looks so good that i would eat the whole thing and probably get a massive sugar crash after – makes me ask “to make or not to make?” ahhh… food, why u so good!!

  7. Olive oil cake has been on my to-make list for years. This post has pushed me over the edge. Must make! xo, Dawn

    p.s. – so, so proud of you and the Saveur win! Of course, I voted for you. Sending heartfelt congratulations on a well-deserved honor. :)

  8. This looks beautiful but, I’m always a little skeptical of olive oil in cakes….I’ve had some that weren’t so yummy. Is there any particular brand or type that you recommend for baking? Thank you.

  9. this looks so good I want to cry…

  10. Hey Connie- I hear you. I use an Arbequina for baking which you can find in most shops that sell a range of olive oils (Arbequina is a type of olive that is mostly used for oil). It is pretty buttery and mild, but still has good olive oil flavor. If you can, I would recommend investing in a nicer bottle of oil for baking. If you happen to have access to a store that just sells olive oil you can sample of a bunch of oils and find one that works for you.

  11. oh my word. this cake is gorgeous. i cannot wait to try!
    congrats tim!!

  12. Carole Kurth says:

    May 8th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Tim, I am SO hungry for lunch, here, and just opened this email…Why do we not have SMELLOVISION AND TASTOVISION?!!
    WOW, that looks amazing! Thank you.

  13. I keep seeing recipes for brown butter in baking and I need to try it out now! This cake has my name on it so of course I will be making it as I could live on olive oil as well as nuts. Heavenly xx

  14. I’ve never made olive oil cake but I always drool over photos like this that show it. It’s definitely on my to-cook list :)

  15. How serendipitous! I came here looking for the proportions for the lime/grapefruit/ginger juice and I was greeted with a lovely photo of an olive oil cake! I was planning on serving olive oil cake at a dinner party this weekend, and now I will be trying this recipe rather than the one I usually use. It sounds delightful.

  16. Bryan- Now you’ve got me thinking about that juice, it is so good!

  17. Oh lordy. Can’t wait to get my paws on this one. :-)

  18. Colleen says:

    May 8th, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    That last photo looks soooo appetizing. I have a grapefruit infused olive oil that I love using for these types of recipes.

  19. I love that cake. Made it (and blogged it) a few years ago, and it’s still one of my all time favorites. Gina de Palma can do no wrong in my book! Beautiful pictures!

  20. Mmmm! Orange, olive oil and brown butter! Sounds incredible.

  21. What a delectable cake! The brown butter almond glaze sparkles and teases as it flows across the citrus almond cake. What a stunner!

  22. Superstar Tim! Try the Le Almond when you get a chance…it will melt your face off! In a good way, of course:) Standout flavors: almond, brown butter, olive oil and citrus = yum. I must try this!

  23. I really like using olive oil in baking and the mild flavour it imparts. Your cake looks really wonderful and the almond meal would be a perfect combination with the olive oil.

  24. Only found out about your site from saveur, and boy am i glad i did! Your photos and recipes are beautiful, I’ve already bookmarked all your favourite recipes and cannot wait to try them!
    Thank you!

  25. I love this! Looks so delicious, I will have to make for brunch. And, as a side note, since I have chocolate allergies, I LOVE that your blog shies away from cocoa-laden recipes. So refreshing. Congrats on the win and keep up your awesome work!

  26. Ninaclock145 says:

    May 9th, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I followed one of your links to ChasingDelicious and made his Meyer-Lemon Pecan cake (wonderful) and put this browned butter glaze on top (minus the almonds). Both of them are keepers. Thanks!

  27. It looks like you’ve disabled comments on your Marriage post, so I will leave my note here to say that your post brought tears to my eyes. What a gorgeous picture of love and commitment to contrast with the hate and intolerance in NC. I will be lucky to create a marriage half as beautiful as yours.

  28. I was just about to say the same thing as Jessica above. Your marriage post made me teary eyed. It’s sad that some people can be so ignorant and mean. Sometimes it seems like we as a society have come so far, and sometimes it seems like we haven’t at all.
    I love Lottie + Doof, and congratulations on your marriage you two make a handsome couple! Sending you love from Canada.

  29. Think i could turn these in to some pretty little cupcakes for Mother’s Day?

  30. This looks beautiful.

    And so do you two. I hope someday the kind of hateful stupidity we see in NC and other states ceases and everyone has equal rights to marry whom they choose.

  31. Danielle- yes, I think that would totally be worth a try. My advice is to oil the tin rather than using paper liners, the texture will be much better.

    Annie, Trudie and Jessica- thanks. it is nice to hear. sorry to cut off the comments on the other post, but I just didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to respond.

  32. Julie Brown says:

    May 9th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Hey Tim,
    There wasn’t anywhere to comment on the Marriage blog, so I am commenting here. I am from North Carolina and right now, I am terribly embarrassed about this. I talked until my face was blue to enlighten people of what the Amendment 1 was about and what it actually meant. If you look at the map, all the counties in NC that had cities or major universities voted against it. But, NC, I am embarrassed to say has alot of rednecks and stupid people in the eastern half and western half of the state and they voted for A1.

    I voted against this amendment. I feel your pain and I think this is a disgrace to NC.

  33. Hey Julie,
    Thanks for all of your good work! North Carolina is also full of awesome people like you, I know. But yes, it is frustrating. And it is frustrating across the board, not just in one state. And it is frustrating that marriage is having to become such a big issue when there are so many other serious problems. But here we are. Keep up the good work! And thanks for writing.

  34. Tim, the cake sounds amazing, as do all of your recipes. So far, I’ve made your Fruit and Nut Bars, Poppy Seed salad dressing and the heavenly Cherry, Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies…but that is not why I am writing. I am writing to thank you for the wedding photo and comments you published earlier today. You are right, today was letdown for all of us who are tired of being treated like second-class citizens by those who feel that marriage can only be defined as a union between a man and a woman. Sadly, I was not surprised by the outcome.

    I am however, still hopeful that in my lifetime you and I will be able to share the same privileges afforded to others. It takes courage to put your personal life out there in the public eye, to willingly subject yourself to the scrutiny of people you do not know, but I admire and applaud you for it. You are helping to show the world that we ARE the norm; we live, eat, breathe and love just like everyone else. So, thank you.

    Please do not be discouraged. We have come so far, and progress, though slow, is still progress.

  35. Hi Tim,

    I have been a silent reader here for a while (I swear this summer I’ll get around to making that chocolate caramel tart, which is what first caught my eye) and I happen to be a big fan of olive oil cakes (my go-to is a lemon olive oil cake based originally on a citrus olive oil cake in Rustic Fruit Desserts), but that’s not what led me to comment for the first time. I just wanted to be one more voice (because there can’t be enough voices) offering my support and my conviction that we will get there someday. Progress is painfully slow, yes, but although we aren’t taking two steps forward for each step back, I think we’re at least taking one and a quarter. Know that there are so many people out there who know what is right and will fight for it, and that those who don’t catch up will eventually just be kicked along for the ride.

    All my love,

  36. That’s really funny– I blogged about this very cake last month and brought it to a friend’s moving day party. It was delicious. I think it is only second to her Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze. Gina De Palma is a genius. Know who’s not a genius? Legislators in North Carolina. What a disgrace. What a shame. The idea of two men in a loving relationship is just too much. They think marriage is between a man and a woman (and when it comes to Southern Republicans…and another woman…and another woman.) Good grief. At least Obama took a stand. Finally! Congrats on Saveur, by the way.

  37. Betsy Busch-Le Ne' says:

    May 10th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Just want to let you know how much I enjoy your site. Love the recipes and have made a number of them-with great success. I’m sort of late to the party about your wedding but congratulations whenever it was. Awfully proud of Obama’s speech today. I certainly hope we have him around for another term. All my best wishes to you both.

  38. i am having a hard time waiting for this to come out of the oven! thank you for your beautiful work. and congrats on your beautiful marriage!

  39. hi tim,
    just felt the need to jump onto your comment-radar and tell you how much i love your blog! i happily discovered it through saveur’s voting list for best blogs (congratulations, by the way) and now have been drooling on a regular basis over your photos and great recipes. please keep it up, i want to read more!! :)

  40. LOL at freezing this cake. It’s beautiful. I’ve had this recipe earmarked for some time, now I must make it. Almond and orange are two of my favorite flavors. I’ve made Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake and Bill Yosses’ Orange Glazed Olive Oil Cake I need this cake this weekend. :-)

  41. I’m wondering…this cake looks fabulous and it’s half-way to gluten free…have you ever tried using a gluten free flour in place of the flour?

  42. Hi Sherry, I haven’t tried. I’m okay with gluten. But it sounds like a good project for you! Let us all know if you come up with something good. : )

  43. long time reader…first time poster! this cake was AMAZING! such a great texture and lovely flavor. thanks!

  44. This cake was fabulous. I made it today using blood oranges and clementines and a bit of hazelnut and almond meal instead of almond flour. It was perfectly moist and full of texture and just plain delicious. Thanks so much!

  45. Oh. My. Goodness. I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow on my day off.

    And congrats on Saveur win! It’s very well deserved. I’ve loved every moment of your blog – it’s a true gem.

  46. Made this today using almond meal. Revelatory.
    A new staple. Baking time was on your low end; but that might just be my oven.

  47. This cake was one of the best parts of my weekend! The brown butter glaze is genius. Trying to think of other things I could slather it on. My cake was done at 30 mins, for the reference of others. Thanks for a great recipe!

  48. Hi there! I’ve been meaning to bake this, but I have a small question: is it okay to use lemon juice instead of orange juice, or would it change it in a major way?

  49. Hi Shuhrah- Sure, it would change it in a major way. It would taste like lemon. Also, the acidity would be higher, not sure if that will do anything to the baking.

  50. oh thank you for this recipe – i made it for my mum on sunday and we all were totally taken with the glaze. mum’s favourite thing is caramel and it was amazing how caramelly that brown butter turned. seriously good tasting times.

  51. 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

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

  53. 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?!

  54. 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!

  55. 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

  56. 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.

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

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

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

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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!

  63. 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.

  64. 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

  65. 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!

  66. 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.

  67. 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!

  68. 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!

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

  70. Thanks, Lilly!

  71. 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!

  72. 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?


  73. 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

  74. 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!

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

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

  77. 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.

  78. 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!

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

  80. 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?

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

  82. 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.

  83. 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?

  84. 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!

What do you think?