If you never baked with olive oil, make room for this cake recipe because you'll want to make it often! It's moist, full of lemon flavor, keeps well, and can be made ahead and frozen. Make it in a bundt, loaf pan, round cake pan, or cupcakes. It's always good, especially with the powdered sugar glaze.
If you already added olive oil to your baking repertoire, you know this recipe is worth making asap.
I started using it while developing recipes for a client (specifically this apple walnut cake) and discovered a whole new world. I was skeptical and thought the final product would be fine but not amazing.
Well, I was wrong. So wrong. With the right type of olive oil, recipes such as this lemon bundt cake climb a few steps.
About this cake
- Moist and tender: oil makes cakes moister, with a more tender crumb. Olive oil, in my experience, makes them richer also.
- Flavor: you won't taste the olive oil if you use a light one.
- It keeps very well: you can keep it at room temperature for a few days, refrigerate, or freeze it.
- Easy to make: since there's no waiting for the butter to soften and no creaming step, this cake is quicker to make than regular ones.
Baking with olive oil
Baking recipes usually call for neutral-tasting oils, such as sunflower or canola. That ensures that it will not mask the flavor of the cake, cookie, or whatever you're baking.
Olive oil tends to have a deeper and stronger flavor than regular oils. So a classic, mild or light extra virgin olive oil works perfectly. I only use extra virgin, but I guess virgin olive oil works fine too.
Nowadays, I substitute olive oil in many cakes that originally called for sunflower oil, like this simple grape cake or the banana chocolate chip bread.
Or the streusel in this blueberry crumb cake.
If you haven't used olive oil in baking recipes, try it. You won't regret it.
- Olive oil: use a light or mild oil.
- Lemon: use freshly grated lemon zest.
- Sugar: white granulated is used for the batter.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Flour: I use cake flour, but all-purpose works just fine.
- Baking powder: is used as leavener to help the cake rise, so make sure it isn't expired.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- Powdered sugar: also called confectioners or icing sugar, it's used for the glaze. Domino powdered sugar is a very popular one.
How to make this lemon olive oil cake
This is a one-bowl recipe.
For ease, I recommend an electric or stand mixer. You can make the batter by hand with a whisk, but it will take some arm power.
The eggs and sugar are beaten until thick, and the oil is added in a stream. The resulting mixture is smooth and shiny.
After the flavorings (lemon zest and vanilla), the dry ingredients are sifted and mixed in. Don't overbeat at this point. Integrate *just* until well mixed.
Have the cake pan ready and never fill it more than ¾ of its capacity to avoid overflowing during baking.
The baked cake is puffed, golden brown with a crack. Make sure the cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Vintage Kitchen tip: be careful not to overbeat or mix too much after adding the flour. You only need to integrate the dry ingredients well. It's the best way to ensure a tender crumb.
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A simple powdered sugar glaze is perfect for this lemon cake as it complements the dense crumb without overpowering the flavors.
It will add tartness and sweetness at the same time. It's an easy way to finish the cake and is lick-finger good.
Decorate it with edible flowers, grated lemon zest, or lemon slices in syrup. Or leave it plain, with just the icing.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Flavor: I use lemon zest, but you can add some pure lemon extract to intensify it, maybe ¼ to ½ teaspoon.
- Olive oil: using it instead of butter gives this cake a fabulous moist crumb and a rich flavor that perfectly complements the citrus. Use a mild extra virgin olive oil for the best results.
- Add-ins: you can add a handful of chopped walnuts to the batter or use limes together with the lemon.
- Pan size: you can make 1 bundt cake, 10 to 12 mini bundts, or 2 medium loaf cakes. For the last two, the baking time will be less, between 35-45 minutes, so be vigilant.
- Storing: you can keep the baked cake at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for a week, well wrapped to avoid dryness, or in the freezer for a month. If you're making it ahead, I recommend freezing it without the glaze unless you're storing leftovers.
Frequently asked questions
Olive oil makes the cake very moist. If you don't want to use butter, it's a good alternative.
Of course you can! I use it in this cake and many others. Extra virgin oil has different strengths, so choose a mild or light one.
Absolutely! I do it all the time because I'm a huge fan of baking with olive oil. It goes great with chocolate and many fruits.
Related recipes you might like:
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Lemon Olive Oil Cake
If you never baked with olive oil, make room for this cake recipe because you'll want to make it often. It's moist, full of lemon flavor, keeps well, and can be frozen. Make it in a bundt or loaf pan, cupcakes, or round cake pan. it's always good, especially with the powdered sugar glaze.
- Total Time: 70 minutes
- Yield: 8-10 servings
For the cake:
- 2 cups (280g) cake or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
- 1 cup (250ml) mild extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 1 ½ cups (240g) powdered sugar
- Lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- Preheat oven at 350°F/180°C.
- Butter or spray a 10 cup (26cm) bundt cake pan and dust with fine dry breadcrumbs or flour, shaking off excess. Refrigerate the pan while making the batter.
- In a large bowl (or bowl of the stand mixer) start beating eggs and add sugar gradually. Beat for 3-4 minutes, until foamy and light.
- Add the oil in a thin stream while you keep beating. It will thicken and be satiny.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla. Mix.
- Add sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in 2 parts and mix until combined but don’t overmix. I sift dry ingredients directly over batter, but you can do it separately.
- Pour into the prepared cake pan (that's cold because you just took it out from the refrigerator) and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Ovens and pans are different and this is a large cake, so it might take longer. You can turn the oven to 325°F/170°C if you feel it needs to bake longer.
- Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and carefully remove from pan. Let cool completely before pouring the glaze.
- Mix sugar and juice until creamy and lump-free. It should have the consistency of thick honey.
- Pour over cooled cake and let drip down the sides.
Organization: always read the whole recipe first and have ingredients measured and cake pan ready before you start.
Flavor: I use lemon zest but you can add some pure lemon extract to intensify it, maybe ¼ to ½ teaspoon.
Olive oil: using it instead of butter gives this cake a fabulous moist crumb and a rich flavor that complements perfectly with the citrus. Use a mild extra virgin olive oil for the best results.
Add-ins: you can add a handful of chopped walnuts to the batter or use limes together with the lemon.
Pan size: you can make 1 bundt cake, 10 to 12 mini bundts, or 2 medium loaf cakes. For the last two the baking time will be less, between 35-45 minutes, so be vigilant with it.
Storing: you can keep the baked cake at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for a week, well wrapped to avoid dryness, or in the freezer for a month. If you're making it ahead, I recommend freezing it without the glaze, unless you're storing leftovers.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/10
- Calories: 489
- Sugar: 42.9 g
- Sodium: 153.9 mg
- Fat: 25 g
- Carbohydrates: 63.1 g
- Protein: 5.8 g
- Cholesterol: 93 mg
Keywords: olive oil lemon cake
Can I substitute to brown sugar
Paula Montenegro says
Yes, you can! The color will be a tad more beige, especially if you use dark brown. I think light brown sugar will work better. Happy baking!
Great. It's my go to recipe. The amount of sugar is the same when using brown sugar. Everyone loves this cake when I make it. Yummy
Beth Thomerson says
This cake is delicious! I followed directions exactly (with one very small tweak) - delicious flavor & crumb. I used the Pam for baking spray and the cake released beautifully. The lemon glaze was bright, flavorful and a fun and pretty way to amp up the lemon presence. My tweak was to microplane lemons to get the zest onto the granulated sugar and then rub it in to infuse the lemon oils into the sugar to distribute it evenly.
I had a specialty swirl bundt pan, and it baked very quickly (almost overbaked). If I use the same pan next time (and there will be a next time), I'll check progress a little earlier. Wonderful recipe and a real hit with us and our guests. Thanks!
Paula Montenegro says
Happy to read that you like it Beth! Yes, infusing sugar with zest is a great idea. As for baking times, all ovens and pans are different and it's always a good idea to check periodically. Have a great weekend!
I made this, and it came out well. I just have a couple of comments.
First off, bundt cake pans are NOT measured in inches--they're measured in cups. So when looking for a pan, the recipe called for a 10-11 inch pan, which was utterly confusing. I didn't know if I needed a 6 cup or a 10 cup or 12 cup. In the end, it's probably a 10 cup. I used a 12 cup bc I wasn't sure, but a 10 cup would suffice. Please, change the recipe so that it's correct! Very confusing!
Also, I thought the cake was good, but it was a tiny bit dry. I'm not sure if I'd add another egg to make a bit more moist next time, but I'll try that and see if it helps it. Other than that, it came out nicely. I adjusted the sugar level to only one cup for the glaze bc I thought it was going to be too sweet with 1.5 cups of sugar, and it worked out fine. Thanks very much for this recipe! It was fun to try something new!
Can I use lemon juice in the cake batter for more flavor?
Paula Montenegro says
Yes Esther, you can, I suggest 2-3 tablespoons.
Hi is it possible to add lemon extract to the cake mix of this recipe to intense lemon taste?
Paula Montenegro says
Hi Sarah, yes, you can do that.
Make sure to beat eggs and sugar for at least 5 min! This cake came out light and fluffy. Not too sweet either. If you have lemon extract, that would make the flavor even stronger.
The bundt cake looks amazing! The crumb is so tender and smooth.