This orange-scented cake is heavenly. In recent years, I’ve become more inclined to the plainer cakes without rich, gloppy frostings, so this one-layer, no icing, no butter cake checked a lot of boxes for me. It’s crusty topped and moist. And super easy to make. What’s more, I had all the ingredients on hand! Big plus.
The recipe for the olive oil cake that I baked came from The London Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the city’s many restaurants and cafes. The contributing restaurant, Towpath, had obtained the recipe from an olive orchard in Tuscany, Italy.
Still, I was cautious about giving it a try. My best experiences with British dining have been in pubs and Indian restaurants. I was hesitant to accept a recipe from a place I’d never eaten or heard of. Yet I marveled at its simplicity.
I Took the Towpath
I checked the Internet and found that Food52 also has an olive oil cake recipe, but it called for more sugar and self-rising flour. Another recipe included apples and raisins. Others included lemon juice and Grand Marnier.
In the end, I went with the Towpath Restaurant recipe, but not before checking with America’s Test Kitchen. Their version was almost identical to Towpath! Good sign. In the course of testing the recipe, the New England kitchen wizards had some suggestions for further perfection. I’ve noted those in the recipe at the end of this post.
Italian Olive Oil Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 to 2 tsp. grated orange zest
- Juice of 1 orange
- Pinch of salt, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter or oil spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, stir flour and baking powder together.
3. Place sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes. May need to beat longer if using a hand mixer.
4. Add olive oil, milk, orange zest and juice and beat for another minute or two. Turn off the beaters and fold in the flour mixture by hand.
5. Scrape into prepared baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely before serving.
Kitchen Notes: Though the recipe calls for whole milk, lower fat varieties work fine. Be sure to mix the length of time noted (or longer, if using hand mixer) or until batter is fluffy and pale yellow. A regular 9″ cake pan can be used instead of a springform pan, but it should be well greased and/or lined with parchment paper. Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Batter can be used for muffins in a greased 12-cup muffin tin. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs—about 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Rotate tin halfway through baking.