Cook the Book: Olive Oil Citrus Cake

Cook the Book: Olive Oil Citrus Cake

It's hard to believe, but there was a time not that long ago when olive oil was considered an exotic ingredient. Times have changed, and I think you would have a tough time finding a kitchen that isn't stocked with a bottle of olive oil. It's a great fat, healthy, versatile, and flavorful without being overpowering. Olive oil has worked its way into most of our daily cooking, but there one area that it has yet to infiltrate, and that is the realm of desserts.

I think that there are far too few olive oil based desserts. If you've ever had the Olive Oil Gelato at Otto I think that you'll agree with me. We are big fans of olive oil based desserts here at Serious Eats (check out some of the ones we have featured here, here, and here). This recipe for Olive Oil Citrus Cake is adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts. It's a great example of the idea that "if it grows together, it goes together". Olives and citrus thrive in the same climates, and are grown in the same regions. Authors Julie Richardson and Cory Schreiber recommend using a fruity olive oil that isn't too spicy for this cake.

Win 'Rustic Fruit Desserts'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rustic Fruit Desserts to give away this week.

  • Yield:8 to 10


  • Cake
  • 1 1/4 cups unsifted (5 ounces) cake flour (you will sift it later)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 grapefruit
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Glaze
  • 3/4 cup (3 1/4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a paper towel, coat a 9-inch by 2-inch round baking pan with olive oil, then sprinkle it with about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

  2. 2.

    To make the cake, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together twice. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and zests on high speed for 5 minutes, until the eggs are thickened and lighter in color. Add the vanilla and lemon oil. Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and drizzle the olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl. Add the flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

  3. 3.

    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and domed slightly in the center. Cool to room temperature.

  4. 4.

    To make the glaze, sift the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl. Add the grapefruit juice and whisk to combine. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

  5. 5.

    Storage: Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.