Rustic Olive Oil Cake with Honey Syrup

Olive oil cake with honey syrup
Ed Anderson

The grassy, earthy flavor of olive oil pairs well with notes of orange. Delicately spiced honey syrup soaks an already-moist cake. It's rustic in the best sense of the word.

Reprinted with permission from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas. Copyright © 2012. Published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Makes: 1 cake

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  • For the Olive Oil Cake:
  • Vegetable oil spray, as needed for the pan
  • 2 cups (243g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups (381g) sugar
  • 1 cup (213g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the Honey Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup (196g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (127 ) sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 clove
  • 1 strip of orange or lemon zest, about 1/2 x 4 inches, cut with a vegetable peeler


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Cut a 9-inch round of parchment paper and place it in bottom of the pan, then spray paper. Flour the pan, shaking out excess. Set cake pan aside.

  2. In a bowl or onto a sheet of parchment, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine milk, Grand Marnier, orange juice, and lemon zest. Set wet ingredients aside.

  4. Put eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk by hand with a balloon whisk until well-combined and smooth.

  5. Gradually add olive oil in a steady stream while whisking egg mixture, as if making mayonnaise. Tip: Put olive oil in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup first to make pouring easier. (Also, you can make a cradle with a kitchen towel to hold bowl steady as you whisk.)

  6. After you have emulsified oil into egg mixture, start adding dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry. As you make each addition of dry and wet ingredients, whisk by hand just until batter is smooth, without overbeating, before adding the next. Scrape down bowl as needed.

  7. Pour batter into a prepared pan. Give the pan a couple of taps on the counter to settle any air bubbles in batter.

  8. Bake cake until deep golden brown, slightly domed, and possibly cracked on top, about 70 minutes. A skewer should come out clean of batter but with a few moist crumbs.

  9. Remove the pan from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. To unmold, run a small knife around edges of cake. Place cardboard or plate over cake pan and invert pan. Cake should slide right out onto cardboard. Peel off parchment circle (from what used to be the bottom of cake) and invert again. Remove top board and cake will be right side up. Allow cake to cool on wire rack until it is only slightly warm or at room temperature before slicing.

  10. Meanwhile, while cake is baking, make syrup. Combine honey, sugar, water, clove, and citrus zest in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and adjusting heat as necessary to keep liquid at a simmer. Simmer until reduced by almost half and as thick as light syrup, 10 to 12 minutes. (You should have a little more than 3/4 cup of syrup.) Remove the pan from heat and pour syrup into a container to cool to room temperature. Remove clove and zest from syrup and discard.

  11. To serve, slice cake and put slices on plates. Drizzle each slice generously with honey syrup.

Special equipment

9-inch cake pan

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