Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Light and tender, this flavorful lemon olive oil cake requires just 6 basic ingredients! It’s easy enough for a casual dessert, but fancy enough to impress dinner guests too.
There are many recipes on this site that are fabulous but forgotten, sadly, in my search for new great recipes. Then there are other recipes that I fall head over heels in love with and bake over and over again. Like this simply dreamy lemon olive oil cake.
I first stumbled upon the recipe over 10 years ago as I was planning a dinner party— I needed an impressive make-ahead dessert that wasn’t too heavy or complicated. Well, this cake was such a huge hit that evening that it’s become one of my favorite recipes!
Why you’ll love this cake (as much as I do)
This lemon olive oil cake is very tender and moist with delicious lemon flavor. The olive oil gives it a certain something that sets is apart and elevates the cake from good to great. The taste from the olive oil is light and a little fruity (depending on the olive oil you use).
There may be a few steps of whipping ingredients separately, and folding things together, but I promise this is an easy recipe that’s doable for all levels of bakers. It’s one of the first recipes I ever mastered!
One of my favorite things about this lemon cake is it can be served many ways, and you can keep things as simple as you’d like, and even serve it as-is. It doesn’t need much! Though my favorite is with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
So let’s get baking, shall we?
Ingredients you’ll need
How to make this lemon olive oil cake
- Separate eggs. This recipe requires 5 large eggs, but we’ll beat the yolks and egg whites into the batter separately.
- Zest and juice lemon. You’ll need 1 whole lemon. First zest the peel, then squeeze and juice the lemon.
- Beat egg yolks and add olive oil. Beat the yolks with sugar until pale and thick, then mix in olive oil and lemon juice.
- Fold in the dry ingredients. Add flour, salt, and lemon zest and use a spatula to gently mix it into the olive oil mixture.
- Whip egg whites and fold into batter. Transfer batter to another large bowl, and thoroughly clean mixing bowl and whisk attachment. Whip egg whites with sugar to soft peaks, then fold into the cake batter in 2 additions, careful not to overmix.
- Bake. Gently spread the cake batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle the top with remaining sugar. Bake at 350°F until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, or it can be served slightly warm if you like.
baking tip:How to separate eggs
While there are a few ways to separate eggs, this is the one that works best for me. Even a little bit of egg yolk can ruin a batch of egg whites meant for whipping as it prevents them from thickening properly. Use this simple method and you’ll never have a problem!
- Gather 3 small bowls— one to use as you separate, one for the yolks, and one for the whites.
- Crack an egg over bowl #1. Gently slide the yolk into your cupped fingers and let the egg whites fall through into the bowl.
- Place the yolk in bowl #2 and the white in bowl #3. However, If any of the egg yolk fell through into the egg white in bowl #1, discard and try again.
For more tips and a video tutorial, see my full post on how to separate eggs.
FAQs for this recipe
I recommend using a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for this lemon cake recipe— something you’d use for salad dressing or dip bread into in. It should have great flavor! That flavor will come through in this cake with a wonderful fruity complexity. A more mild olive oil will still give the cake a moist texture, but won’t have the same boost of flavor.
I prefer to bake this cake in a springform pan with removeable sides so it doesn’t have to be inverted out of a traditional cake pan, preserving the beautiful crispy sugar topping. If you choose to bake this in a 9-inch cake pan, let it cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and very carefully invert it out onto your hand then back onto a serving plate.
Yes, absolutely! This recipe would also work with lime, orange or grapefruit. All flavors would be delicious.
More tips for baking this cake
- Egg yolks and whites will whip better at room temperature than when they’re cold, however they are easier to separate when cold. If possible, separate eggs and let sit for about 30 minutes while you do other cake prep, or preheat the oven.
- Be sure no trace of egg yolk ends up in the whites, or else the fat will prevent the whites from whipping up properly. Similarly, make sure you thoroughly clean the mixing bowl and whisk before whipping the whites. If you have 2 mixing bowls, play it safe and use both.
- Here’s a great visual on how to fold ingredients into each other.
- If you’re nervous about the cake sticking to the pan, line the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment paper.
- This cake will stay moist for days! Store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- This cake can also be frozen to enjoy later. Wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for 1-2 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Other lemon recipes to try
Note: Recipe originally published in March 2011.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 5 large eggs , separated
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar , divided (175 grams)
- ¾ cup quality extra-virgin olive oil (177 ml)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (120 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Whipped cream, powdered sugar and berries for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and grease with the non-stick spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar until pale and thick.
- Combine the olive oil and lemon juice and with the mixer running on low, slowly add it to the yolk mixture. It may look slightly curdled. Add the flour, salt and lemon zest and gently fold into the yolk-olive oil mixture with a spatula.
- Transfer mixture to a separate bowl and set aside. Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Be sure no trace of batter or grease remains in the pan or egg whites may not whip properly.
- Add the egg whites to the mixer bowl and use the whisk attachment to whip them on medium high speed until foamy, then slowly add ¼ cup of the sugar and continue to beat to soft peaks.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the olive oil mixture in 2 additions, just barely until incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Spread into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan and cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, or as desired.
- High quality extra-virgin olive oil will yield a slightly stronger flavor, use a mild olive oil if a more subtle flavor is desired.
- Yields one 9-inch cake.