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I love olive trees. They seem to be the only plant apart from succulents that thrive on my sunny terrace. It seems incredible that those little olives, when pressed, make a wonderful gold liquid that is rich, fruity and can be used in so many ways. When I first discovered that olive oil could be used in cakes instead of butter, I was curious to see if I could taste the oil. And that’s the funny thing, olive oil cakes do not taste “oily”. Nor do they have an “oily” texture. They are moist and have a subtle olive oil fruitiness.

2-lemon olive oil cake

There are so many types of olive oil around. I use two types at home: pure olive oil for cooking (I use the brand Moro) and cold pressed local extra virgin olive oil for dressing salads, usually an Australian variety such as Mount Zero, which has a stronger flavour and is a darker colour that borders on green. Lighter pure olive oil is the right type to use when making cakes as the taste is not overpowering but still adds a richness and texture that is quite different from cakes you make with butter.

3- lemon olive oil cake

I had purchased a bag of organic lemons last week (as I was going to try to make Limoncello….a story for another blog post!) and decided to make a lemon cake with olive oil. I did some Internet research and found this recipe by blogger spinachtiger, which I liked the sound of as it added half a cup of sour cream to the batter, making it extra moist. I modified her recipe only slightly. The resulting cake was deliciously light and ever so soft, with the citrus tang balancing beautifully with the slightly fruity olive oil. The texture of the cake seemed to improve the second day when I ate it cold from the fridge. I had dusted it with some icing sugar and served it with a glass of limoncello. You can never have enough citrus, can you?!

olive oil and lemon cake aerial

Lemon olive oil cake

1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup pure olive oil
juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Place the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and rub them together with your fingertips so the zest is well incorporated. Set aside. Using an electric mixer on slow speed, mix the eggs and sour cream until well incorporated. Add the lemon juice and the sugar mixture and beat, then add the flour and beat until the mixture is homogeneous. Lastly add the olive oil, pouring slowly while you beat.

Pour the mixture into a lined 23cm (9 inch) spring form cake tin and bake at 170C/340F for ten minutes then lower the temperature to 160C/325F and bake for another 30 minutes. You can turn the temperature up to 180C/350F for the last five minutes if you want the top of the cake to get a bit of colour (otherwise it remains quite pale). Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold dusted with icing sugar.

1-lemon olive oil cake

(The first time I made this, I cooked it for 30 minutes at 175C and as it cooled, the middle of the cake sunk spectacularly! So reducing the temperature after 10 minutes and cooking it a bit longer seemed to work better).

Related recipes on this blog:
Flourless lime and pistachio cake
Flourless orange cake
Lemon semolina syrup cake


  • It looks so lovely and moist. I love citrus cakes!

  • I’m a novice baker so a basic question: what size cake tin do I use?

  • MissC says:

    Please make Limoncello and blog about it!

  • Dianne says:

    A lemon cake with olive oil – so fresh! What a great summer treat.

  • Heather T says:

    I normally don’t have self-rising flour on hand. Would adding baking powder be a substitute to go along with all-purpose flour?
    The cake looks really good!

    • Hi Heather, thank you and yes absolutely. You could use plain flour, a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt instead of SR flour (as these are the 3 ingredients in SR flour). Happy baking!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake and i’m thinking today I must remake it, as you made me hungry for it again. I like idea of eating it cold too.

  • Sheree says:

    Definitely going to try this recipe, I love lemon cakes. I also adored Melbourne and it’s foodie culture when I was there three year’s ago.

  • Penny says:

    Hi I just made the cake and mine didn’t rise at all. I doubled check that I used the correct ingredients and for some reason only put 1/2 c of sugar. The cake was quiet dense doesn’t look as nice and fluffy as yours. Will have to make it again another time. I’ve put it in the fridge to try tomorrow maybe it will be better. I hope anyways

    • Hi Penny, the first time I made it, it did not work either – it sunk in the middle. Did it rise at all (and then later sink)? The oven temperature does seem to affect this cake so I would check that your oven is calibrated & doesn’t have cold spots. Also making sure the oil is is added slowly. Goof luck!

  • Angela C says:

    Hi, tried this recipie for the first time. I followed the recipe and cooking instructions. It turned out flat and dense. Any suggestions as I would like to try this recipe again.

    • Dear Angela
      sorry to hear that your cake did not rise. The areas to watch out for are being careful not to over-mix (slow speed best); not placing the cake in the oven immediately after you have finished mixing; the ingredients not being fully combined or else there could be a temperature problem with your oven. Sorry I can’t offer more advice. I do hope it works for you are it is a lovely recipe.

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