This apple cake with olive oil has it's origins in the coastal region of Liguria, Italy. A simple and delicious olive oil cake recipe with sweet chunks of fresh apples and plump raisins with hints of cinnamon. Perfectly moist and dense with just enough crumble!

Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake with chunks of apple, raisins and cinnamon

People of the Mediterranean, at least the part I grew up in, love their tea time.

I don't want you to picture an English high tea situation, as lovely as that sound, but a more casual affair. Just time with friends and family to catch up on life over a cup of tea (no special china needed.)

At my parents' home, it was black tea with some dried fruits and nuts on the side, and, on occasion, a little strudel. In my home, it's usually a no-fuss crustless ricotta cheesecake, red wine poached pears, or a simple cake much like today's apple cake recipe.

Whether you're into afternoon tea or morning coffee with friends, this Italian apple olive oil cake--with chunks of sweet apple and plump raisins--will fit the bill!

And if you're looking for something sweet enough, but not too sweet, this olive oil cake is just that!  But sweet-toothed folks can easily add a drizzle of warmed dark honey or caramel, maybe even a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream, if you're feeling indulgent.

This apple cake is easy to make, and you'll love the little Italian twist, borrowed from Liguira, Italy!

Olive Oil Cake In Pan with Parchment Paper. A bowl of apples on side

Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake

This olive oil cake is a modern version of one from the coastal region of Liguria, Italy. It's a no-frosting and no-fuss type cake, the kind Italian nonnas might whip up on short notice!

Here's the gist. Simple rustic olive oil cake with chunks of sweet fresh apple and plump raisins with warm hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's dense with just enough crumble.

Extra virgin olive oil is obviously key in this cake, it lends great moisture and tenderness and provides a layer of complexity and richness to this rustic cake. (I used this Private Reserve EVOO, by the way.)

Can I Use Olive Oil in Cake? 

People of the Mediterranean have been baking with olive oil for years (even in things like banana bread!)  But the question may still pop up, "can I use olive oil in cake?"

The short answer is: yes! Even die-hard butter fans agree that olive oil makes exceptionally good cakes.

Here are three reasons why olive oil is great in cakes:

1. At room temperature, olive oil is liquid, so it does add superior moisture overtime even with leftovers.

2. Using quality extra virgin olive oil in place of butter is a great way to cut saturated fats and add more monosaturated fats, which promote good cholesterol.

3. Very simply, a good extra virgin olive oil, like this one I used, will add a wonderful, rich and nounaced flavor to your cake without calling too much attention to itself.

Apple Olive Oil Cake Sliced. A slice served on plate to the side

TIPS FOR THIS OLIVE OIL CAKE RECIPE 

Three important tips for making this cake:

1. The batter for this particular olive oil cake will be thick. Trust me, it's meant to be. Resist the urge to add water or anything else to loosen it.

2. What kind of apples to use and how to cut them for this recipe? This time I used gala apples, but you can use other baking apples you like (Honey Crisp Apples or Pink Lady Apples. It's even better if you use a couple apple varieties for a more complex flavor. For example, instead of just gala apples, you can mix in Granny Smith apples, which have a more tart, subtly acidic flavor.

I prefer to chop the apples to a fairly small chop/dice for a more rustic texture. That way, they won't completely disappear in the cake, instead you get some sweet apple bites in each piece.

If you're someone who enjoys more citrusy flavor profile, then be sure to check out my orange cardamom olive oil cake!

3. Use Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As the name implies, this is an olive oil cake, and you should be able to detect some olive oil notes. Don't worry, it will not be overwhelming, but the slightly savory notes of extra virgin olive oil will lend an appealing flavor complexity.

My best advice to you is to use only quality extra virgin olive oil or you may end up with less than describable flavor. Worse, rancid!

I used our Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil from organically grown and processed Koroeniki olives. An exquisite cold extracted and unfiltered oil with a delicate intensity, vivid color, and low acidity of 0.4%. Read more about this oil here.

Apple Olive Oil cake whole. A dusting of sugar on top

Can this be a Vegan cake?

It's quite simple to make a vegan version of this Italian apple olive oil cake. Obviously, the one ingredient you need to replace is the eggs.

While I have not personally tried it, one awesome reader, Elena, just wrote in to share her vegan take on this apple olive oil cake: "I used about 1 cup of coconut milk (in which I soaked the raisins) and 1 cup of orange juice , to replace the 2 eggs. I also added a handful of walnuts, so delicious!"

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Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake with chunks of apple, raisins and cinnamon

Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake


Description

Simple and rustic Apple Olive Oil Cake with chunks of apple, raisins and the perfect combination of spices. The kind of no-fuss olive oil cake you'll love.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 large Gala apples, peeled and chopped as finely as possible
  • Orange juice to soak apples in
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup gold raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and then drained well
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chopped apples in a bowl and add orange juice; just enough juice to toss and coat apples so as to prevent browning.
  3. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside for now
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, add sugar and extra virgin olive oil. Mix on low for 2 minutes until well-combined
  5. While mixer is on, add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix another 2 minutes until mixture increases in volume (it should be thicker but still runny)
  6. In the large bowl with the dry ingredients, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the wet mixture (the sugar and olive oil mixture) into the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just blended; it will be a thick batter (do not add anything to loosen it).
  7. Drain raisins (which have been soaking in water) completely; and rid apples of excess juice. Add both raisins and apples to the batter and mix with spoon until well-combined. Again, batter will be fairly thick.
  8. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Spoon thick batter into the pan, and level the top with the back of your wooden spoon.
  9. Bake in 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick or wooden skewer comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely in pan. When ready, simply lift parchment up to transfer cake into a serving dish. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Alternatively, heat some dark honey to serve on top (those with a sweeter tooth like this option.)

Notes

  • Important Tip using excellent extra virgin olive oil makes the biggest difference in this cake. Inferior olive oils will produce less than desirable taste. We use our Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil, Or Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil for deeper flavor.
  • Can this be Vegan? While I have not personally tried the vegan version of this cake, one of our readers, Elena just wrote in to share her vegan take on this apple olive oil cake: "I used about 1 cup of coconut milk (in which I soaked the raisins) and 1 cup of orange juice , to replace the 2 eggs. I also added a handful of walnuts, so delicious!"
  • Storage This cake is best consumed within 2-3 days or so. Store it in an airtight class container for 2-3 days in a cool and dry place. You can refrigerate, but bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Recommended for this Recipe Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives); all-natural ground nutmeg 
  • SHOP OUR BUNDLES EVOO Bundle ; Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle
  • Visit The Mediterranean Dish store for more!
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Cuisine: Italian/Mediterranean

Keywords: olive oil cake, apple cake

*Note: This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2017 and has been recently updated with new content and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. I was so excited to make a healthy apple cake, but without salt the cake is flat and tasteless. Also, even though my toothpick came out clean after 45 minutes of baking, the middle was underbaked and too dense.

  2. This was incredible!!! Added walnuts and it would be a fantastic breakfast. The dough is very thick but the cake is thick and rich too. Will absolutely make again. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  3. I would like to have the ingredients in grams for the olive oil apple cake, it seems cup measurement can vary quite lot

    1. Hi, Pam. Thanks for the feedback! I'm so sorry we don't have metric measurements for this recipe available. We do try to add them when we can, but we just haven't found the right metric conversion tool for every recipe on our website quite yet. It's something we're working on solving.

  4. Taste-wise right on but a bit dry but that might have happened because I used Stevio instead of real sugar. We just added some ice cream to remedy that! 🙂 Thank you Suzy for the inspiration!

  5. Shoot - forgot to mention - I *ALWAYS* use sugar substitute with this, as I share with my Diabetic father-in-law. I've used Splenda, generics, guava, honey, it really doesn't matter. This recipe is so forgiving!!! I've also mixed up with part whole wheat flour, part almond flour, even used part coconut flour (though that definitely gave it a bit of a more "sweet" vibe - probs be delish with the pineapple, but I didn't think of that at the time! lol). Anyway, play away with this recipe folks; it's truly forgiving, just watch your bake times and liquid (almond and coconut flour suck up a lot of liquid; but y'all know what a cake batter is supposed to look like, so go with that!). 🙂

  6. Hi, Suzy! I've made this recipe so many times, and it's always a hit! Tried with a can of pineapple tidbits (I left the juice, and left OUT the orange juice), and it was AMAZING! Absolutely as good as the original apple cake, but I happened to come across the pineapple wondered, "What if I...?" SO glad I tried it, and so glad for the base forgiving recipe!

  7. Because I don't use refined flour or sugar. I would live to know if honey and whole wheat can be substituted.
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Diane. I have not tested either of those substitutions with this recipe myself, but other readers have had success using both, so it would definitely be worth a try!

  8. Hi,
    Looks delicious- not sure if you can suggest a gluten-free flour to substitute in this recipe as I have coeliac disease and am restricted to gluten-free food. Thanks 🙏

    1. Hi, Angela. I most often use King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour. I find this to be a bit more crumbly when made gluten free, but still really yummy :). Hope you enjoy it!

  9. Made this cake today and it is delicious! We are just two, so would like to know if it is possible to freeze half the cake?

  10. I made the cake for company and everyone was raving about the moistness and the amazing flavour. My friend thought I bought the cake from a well known bakery. We served the cake with vanilla ice cream on the side and I added chopped walnuts to the batter which I thought worked out really well. Thank you for your beautiful creation as this cake will be made on a regular basis. The recipe was shared with my guests.

  11. This cake was scrumptious! It has a wonderful, slightly crunchy crust and the cake itself is moist and not too sweet. It's delicious with just a little fresh whipped cream. Great with coffee! Note: the suggestion to use 1 cup of orange juice and 1 cup of coconut to replace the eggs for a vegan version doesn't quite sound like it would work. Maybe the reader meant different measurements?