Olive Oil Cake Recipe

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

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.

This olive oil cake is frosted with a lemon cream cheese frosting

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!! 🙂

Yield: Three, six-inch cake layers

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

This lemon olive oil cake is made with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon zest and juice, and is a beautiful play on a classic Italian olive oil cake.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 54 minutes

Ingredients

Olive Oil Cake Layers

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cup (250 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)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest (zest from 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream

Cake Decorations

Instructions

Olive Oil Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease three, six-inch pans, and set aside.
  2. Add eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat the the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the wet ingredient (milk, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice).
  4. Combine the remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder) in another medium sized bowl.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  7. 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.
  8. Once cooled, level the cake layers using a serrated knife, and assembled the cake.
  9. 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:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of heavy cream and lemon juice.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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Nutrition Information

Yield

12 slices

Serving Size

1 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

23 thoughts on “Olive Oil Cake Recipe

  1. Hey Chelsea! For the frosting – the ingredients don’t say heavy cream, but it says to add it in the directions! Also, in the directions it doesn’t say anything about the lemon! Is it just added after beating the butter + cream cheese?

    1. So sorry about that Deanna! Just updated it to remind everyone to add in the lemon juice and lemon zest 🙂 Thank you!!

  2. Hi Chelsea – What size pans should I use if I don’t have 6″ pans? Can I use 9″ pans and cook the layers longer . . . or . . . ? Thank you!

    1. One batch of batter will actually make on thick nine inch layer! You may have to bake it a little longer, maybe 5 minutes or so!! Hope that helps <3

  3. Can this cake be made in advance and frozen? If not, how much in advance do you think I could make the cake and frosting before assembling?
    Thank you!

    1. Of course! It can be frozen just like my vanilla layer cake recipe! just be sure to wrap the layers properly, to keep them moist!

    1. It makes AMAZING cupcakes!! I made some with some leftover batter and they’re delicious!! A tiny bit more dense than a normal cupcake because of the olive oil, but they’re incredibly moist and flavorful 🙂

  4. Hi Chelsea!
    I’m new to your blog and came across it after being asked to make my friend’s wedding cake. I just have to say, your blog is one of the best I’ve seen! It’s chock full of information and that information is echoed across videos and articles alike. You cover the basics as well as more interesting or challenging recipes. I think I read somewhere that you now do this full time, and I just wanted to let you know (one food professional to another) that you made the right choice!!
    Thanks!

    1. you can do either! The cakes just have to be at room temperature before you level them. You can level them once they’re fully cooled and then freeze them, or wait! If you wait, you can freeze them, allow them to thaw fully, then level them 🙂

      I do both, just based on how much time I have.

  5. Hey, lovely cake, but I´m a bit confused with the ingredients ? 1 cup (189 grams) granulated sugar
    2 cup (250 grams) all-purpose flour ? Isn´t 2 Cups ( 1 = 189 grams) x 2 = 378 grams ? Please need urgent Help , i have googled that cups/grams thing but got about 3 different answers. Sincerely Laura from germany

    1. The standard measurements for US cups are 200g for 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 125 grams per cup of all purpose flour. I ended up using slightly less sugar, hence me sharing 189g of granulated sugar. Hope that helps Laura <3

  6. Hi! I’m looking at this recipe from your naked wedding cake tutorial from YouTube, I’m looking for a good recipe for a naked cake, but strawberry flavored. Can this recipe be altered? Or will it be with since it’s an olive oil cap cake? Thanks in advance!

  7. Hi Chelsea, i will be making a 3 layers wedding cake for a friend.. First attempt. your video mentioned that you used 7.5 batches of cake batter, Does this work out to be 1 batch for 3 x 6in, 3 batches for 3 x 9in, and 3.5 batches for 3 x 12 in. I do not have a 6 in cake tin but a 7 in, so how many batches for 3 x 7 in. I have never bake a 12 in cake and concerned the middle cake will be uncooked or the side of the cake will be dried when the middle part is cooked.

    I am planning to use the cream cheese frosting but do not like it to be too sweet and grainy feeling of the powder sugar. Please advise if i should add more whipping cream and cream cheese and reduce the butter and sugar. Also how many batches of frosting needed for a 3 layer cakes of the above cake size.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Megan Chow,
    Melbourne, Australia.

    1. Hi Megan! how exciting!! I actually baked each layer individually, in pans that are 2 inches tall. I don’t torte my cake layers like that normally, because it takes so long to bake the tall layers.

      But yes, I think thats about the amount of batter I used per tier. I don’t totally remember my calculations, but I used my cake batter calculator to figure it out! (https://chelsweets.com/2019/04/22/how-much-cake-batter-per-pan/)

      I definitely recommend using a couple flower nails (placed upside down) in your large pans, to help them bake more evenly and quickly! I always use them on cake layers larger than 8 inches.

      My frosting is never grainy, but the powdered sugar here in the US is very fine! you can alter the frosting recipe to suit your taste, but it might make it less firm, which can affect how well it keeps its shape.

      Hope that helps, best of luck!! <3

  8. Hi Chelsea! I just baked the first 12 inch layer of a wedding cake with your recipe just to try the taste and it’s fabulous! Question about the cream cheese! How long ahead can I make this frosting considering I have to cover a three tiered cake 12 – 10 and 8 inch and I don’t have too much time with the kids around? How much frosting do you think I will need for a semi naked cake?

    1. I’m so happy to hear that Simone! You can make cream cheese frosting weeks in advance, it’ll stay good in the fridge or freezer! You’re going to need a lot of frosting for a cake that size, but it can vary based on how much frosting you add between the layers, and how you plan to decorate it. I’d recommend making at least 5 batches though!

      Best of luck, I’m sure your cake will turn out great 🙂

  9. Hi there! How do I know how much batter to make for different pan sizes?

    I’m going to attempt to make my first three layer cake using 12” 10” and 8” layers. But I can’t figure out how much batter I need per pan!

Let me know what you think!