This lemon olive oil cake is amazingly moist and extremely fragrant! It has a light and fluffy texture and isn’t dense or heavy.
My Greek heritage has taught me to appreciate every single drop of olive oil I use! Living in Greece, I have been very lucky to sample lots of different types of olive oil from all over Greece, including Crete, the Peloponnese, even the island of Santorini, where the soil is rich with nutrients from the volcano. Actually, olive oil from Santorini is one of the best I’ve ever had!
In my family, we use olive oil for just about every meal there is, both savory and sweet. Like this Greek halva cake, my Greek olive oil cookies - Ladokouloura, and my Greek pastelli salad, just to name a few!
This delicious lemon olive oil cake is another family favorite! This cake is so light and moist! Even friends who have never tried it before couldn’t tell that it was made with olive oil. If you’re looking for a healthier cake with less saturated fat than your average butter cake, you should definitely give this one a try!
Why this recipe works
- It uses homemade lemon sugar, which really boosts the flavor of the cake!
- It has the right balance between sugar and lemon.
- It’s really simple to make.
What does this lemon olive oil cake taste like?
This cake is incredibly moist and fluffy and not at all dense or heavy. It has just the right amount of lemon flavor and the glaze on top adds a nice citrus sweetness without being overly sweet. Furthermore, this cake does not have an oily or greasy aftertaste.
Traditionally, in Greece this cake is often drenched in syrup like in my portokalopita Greek orange phyllo cake, but for this recipe, I chose to add a light lemon glaze on top of the cake, instead. It’s definitely a lot lighter without the syrup and I prefer it! I’ve also made this cake plain without a glaze and it’s just as delicious!
What is lemon sugar?
Lemon sugar refers to combining lemon zest with granulated sugar. By rubbing the lemon zest together with the sugar, you release all the amazing oils that are inside the zest, resulting in an incredibly fragrant, flavorful, and infused sugar. This adds a lot of flavor as opposed to just adding more lemon juice. Also, adding lemon sugar to baked goods doesn’t add more acidity, which I love! I’ve been using lemon sugar for years, and you can also make flavored sugar with any citrus fruit. Check out this post for more information.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE LEMON OLIVE OIL CAKE
Olive oil: Try and use the best olive oil you can get! I use an unflavored, good quality Greek olive oil that I also use every day for cooking and salads. The best for this recipe is a light extra virgin olive oil.
Lemon: You only need 1 medium-large lemon for this recipe!
Greek Yogurt: I use 2% yogurt, but you could use full fat, if you prefer. The yogurt gives a nice tang and also the right moisture.
Flour & leaveners: I use regular, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and some baking soda.
Eggs: I use whole, organic eggs.
Sugar & salt: I use regular white sugar and a bit of salt. I also use powdered sugar for the glaze.
Vanilla: I use a little bit of vanilla extract. I have made this cake before without vanilla, but I really think it improves the overall flavor of the cake.
You can use this recipe to make an orange olive oil cake, instead. Just replace the lemon zest with equal amounts of orange zest and add no more than 1.7 fl oz (about 50 ml) of fresh orange juice. Then follow the recipe as instructed.
HOW TO MAKE LEMON OLIVE OIL CAKE
Start off by lightly greasing your baking pan. For this recipe, I used a silicone pan, so I just greased it lightly with olive oil. Depending on the pan you use, you might want to dust it with flour, too.
Then, make the cake.
Whisk together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt.
Then make the lemon sugar. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers. The sugar will become slightly moist and very fragrant.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and the olive oil for about 1 minute.
Add the yogurt, vanilla, and lemon juice to the egg mixture and whisk until everything is well-incorporated.
Pour the yogurt mixture to the bowl with the lemon sugar and whisk everything together until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed using a hand mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, but don't overmix. It's OK if there are a few few lumps in the batter.
After that, pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake. When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before removing it. Then carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake has cooled, make the lemon glaze.
Put the powdered sugar, the lemon juice, and water in a bowl.
Whisk everything together until it's smooth and lump-free. It should be thick, like honey, if not, add more powdered sugar or water, accordingly.
Then drizzle it over the cooled cake.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Store the cake wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
The Lemon Glaze
If you want a more intense lemon flavor, you could add some lemon zest to the glaze.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes! Actually, many people here in Greece bake with olive oil all the time and many swear that cakes taste better than ones made with butter! Using olive oil instead of butter is also a good way to cut down on saturated fat.
The flavor of the cake will depend greatly on the kind of olive oil you use. For me, the best for this recipe is a high-quality, light, extra virgin olive oil.
This cake lasts up to about 5 days in the refrigerator.
Yes, but I’ve never frozen it with the glaze on top. I like to wrap individual slices of unglazed cake with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I then place them in freezer bags that I label. It can be frozen for up to about 2 months.
Let me know how lemon olive oil cake turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
MORE CAKE RECIPES TO TRY!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 9.5 inch (24.5 cm) bundt pan
For the cake
- 3 cups (375g / 13.3 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups (300g / 10.6 oz) sugar
- zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 2 medium eggs
- ¾ cup (180ml / 6 fl oz) light, extra virgin olive oil
- 7 oz / 200g Greek yogurt (I use 2%)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the lemon glaze
- 1 ¼ cup (200g / 6.7 oz) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
- Lightly grease your pan with olive oil. Set aside.
Make the cake
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, rub the zest and the sugar together with your fingers. The sugar will become slightly moist and very fragrant.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the olive oil for about 1 minute.
- Add the yogurt, vanilla, and lemon juice to the egg mixture and whisk until everything is well-incorporated.
- Pour the yogurt mixture to the bowl with the lemon sugar and whisk everything together until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed using a hand mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, but don't overmix. It's OK if there are a few lumps in the batter.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took an hour.)
- When done, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before removing it.
- Carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the lemon glaze
- In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, the lemon juice, the water, and the zest (if using) until it's smooth and lump-free. It should be thick, like honey. If not, add more powdered sugar or water, accordingly.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.