I’ve never made a cake, or any baked good for that matter, with olive oil before. A majority of my cake recipes use butter as the fat. I’ve made a few cakes with vegetable oil or shortening, but in the past I haven’t really ventured beyond these.
That all changed when I was asked to make an olive oil wedding cake! At first, I was kind of shocked. Of all the flavors out there, that was her choice?! To be honest, I had never tried olive oil cake before. I think my initial hesitation was just me being scared of trying something new.
For starters, most classic Italian olive oil cakes are a single layer! A SINGLE LAYER!! Since I needed to make this into an olive oil layer cake, I knew I’d have to increase the overall amount of batter.
One batch of batter needed to fill three, six-inch cake pans. I decided to master the recipe at this size, and then scale it up for the wedding cake.
Classic Olive Oil Cakes – Less Sugar, More Fat
After doing some research, I realized that olive oil cakes are less sweet than most of the cakes I make, and use a LOT of olive oil. To emulate the traditional taste of an Italian olive oil cake, I scaled back the sugar a bit, and included a generous amount of olive oil.
Picking The Best Olive Oil For Baking
The star of this cake recipe is olive oil, so I knew I need to use a high quality olive oil!! I wanted to pick a fruity, delicious olive oil that would pair well with the lemon flavor in this cake. By no means am I an olive oil expert, but there are a few things you should look for when picking out a bottle of olive oil at the grocery store:
- Look for dark bottles; darker glass helps protect the olive oil from sunlight, which can damage it’s nutrients and taste
- The label should say “extra virgin,” if it doesn’t, it means it’s been processed to a point that reduces it’s flavor
- There should be a best by date, and if it’s a really good olive oil, it might even include the harvest date!
- Be sure to look for some type of seal! If it’s a foreign olive oil, it should have a PDO seal (protected designation of Origin). If the olive oil is from the USA, it should have a USDA seal. I know it’s terrible to think bout, but there are counterfeit olive oils out there!
Lemon and Olive Oil – The Perfect Fruity Pair
With all of these things in mind, I went to work playing around with this recipe! I started with a classic olive oil cake recipe (thank you Bake From Scratch!). My goal was to have the cake layers to still taste like an Italian olive oil cake…even if it was stacked and covered in buttercream!
I decided to nix the almond extract, since I didn’t want to trigger any nut allergies at the wedding. In it’s place, I added in some lemon juice and zest, to brighten up the flavor. Lemon pairs so well with the fruity flavor of the olive oil!
The result? A wonderful, fruity, moist, DECADENT layer cake. Once I was happy with my lemon olive oil cake layers, I faced my next challenge. The frosting!!! What frosting would taste best with an olive oil cake?
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Most olive oil cakes don’t have frosting at all. They’re usually finished with a brush of olive oil, or dusted with powdered sugar. I wanted to frost the cake with something that wasn’t too sweet, but I needed to use a buttercream that would keep it’s shape. The last thing I wanted was a wedding cake with bulging sides, or sliding tiers.
I ended up doing a taste test with three different frostings. I tried the cake with my classic American buttercream, my cream cheese frosting, a lemon buttercream, and combination of the lemon and cream cheese frosting. It was an easy decision, and the winner was the lemon cream cheese frosting.
Baking The Cake Layers
To make the lemon olive oil cake batter, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease three, six-inch pans, and set aside.
Add eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat the the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the wet ingredient (milk, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice). Combine the remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder) in another medium sized bowl.
Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture on a low speed until just incorporated, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then repeat this process. Finish by adding in remaining dry ingredients, then pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip onto a wire cooling wrack to finish cooling.
While the cake layers bake and cool, make the frosting and candied lemon slices by following the recipes below. Both be made in advance.
Assembling The Cake
Decorate the base of the cake with fresh rosemary sprigs, and place candied lemon slices in a ring on top of the cake.
Unless you plan to eat the cake immediately, chill the cake in the fridge. Remove an hour before you plan to cut the cake, to allow the frosting to come to room temperature.
This cake was a huge hit at the wedding, but it would also be great for any small get together or celebration! One batch makes one six-inch layer cake, which feeds 10-12 people.
If you try any of my recipes, please be sure to tag me @chelsweets and use the hashtag #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations!! 🙂
Olive Oil Cake Layers
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cup (260 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temp (4 oz)
- 5 cups powdered sugar (675 grams)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest (zest from 1 medium lemon)
- 1 Tbsp heavy cream
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- 10 candied lemon slices
Olive Oil Cake Layers:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease three, six-inch pans, and set aside.
- Add eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat the the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the wet ingredient (milk, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice).
- Combine the remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder) in another medium sized bowl.
- Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture on a low speed until just incorporated, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then repeat this process. Finish by adding in remaining dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip onto a wire cooling wrack to finish cooling.
- Once cooled, level the cake layers using a serrated knife, and assembled the cake.
- Cover the outside of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, to create a semi-naked look. Decorate the base of the cake with fresh rosemary sprigs, and place candied lemon sliced to the top of the cake.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of heavy cream and lemon juice.
- Once combined, add in the lemon zest and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
- If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
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Serving Size1 six inch layer cake
Amount Per Serving Calories 557 Total Fat 21g Saturated Fat 12g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 8g Cholesterol 82mg Sodium 475mg Carbohydrates 90g Fiber 1g Sugar 72g Protein 4g
Olive Oil Layer Cake Recipe