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 am excited to make this for company tomorrow. Quick question....I don't love raisins. Do you think a substitute such as chopped walnuts or dried cranberries would work or do you need the raisins to make it authentic? Thank you for everything that you do.

  2. Love this recipie. Really do not bake much but this cake looked so good I thought I would give it a try. All i can say is …..Delicious!

    1. Hi, Michelle. Other readers have done this with success, so it may be worth a try. In my experience, whole-wheat flour can make baked goods denser and heavier than those made with just all-purpose flour. Just something to keep in mind. You could always start by substituting some whole-wheat flour for a bit of the all-purpose flour if you want to avoid this potential issue.

  3. Hello Can you use wholemeal flour in the the apple cake instead of all purpose as that is not a wholegrain flour if so can you let me know what quantity please

    1. Hi, Tracy. I have not personally used wholemeal flour in this recipe, so it's hard to say. If you give it a try, I'd love to hear your feedback!

      1. Hi Suzy,
        I love this cake recipe and your entire catalog of recipes. I’ve tried several. I made this cake with a cup and a half of almond meal flour in place of all-purpose and 2/3 cup brown sugar. It was absolutely delicious. Thank you again for this and your cooking tips.

  4. Love this recipe very much! Have made several times as written. Wondering if it could be baked in a loaf pan?

  5. I LOVED this cake!! I actually messed up while making it...I missed the part that said mex the olive oil and the sugar in a SEPARATE bowl, and I need them in with the dry ingredients!! I couldn't figure out why my batter wasn't "thick but still runny"!! Decided no harm was done and kept going....the batter was more like cookie dough bit it all came out fine in the end! I didn't have any dried fruit, and I put in about a quarter cup less sugar, and added walnuts. Love the crunchy top that is almost like a streusel topping! Will definitely make this again!!

  6. This is a very, very good cake! It’s quite dense and mine fell apart easily, but the flavor and health benefits were worth the time and energy it took to finely chopped 2 very large apples (one Gala and one Granny Smith). Because the apples were so large, I increased the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp, added 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp vanilla. I soaked the raisins in rum, but realized later that it should have been WARM rum because they didn’t plump up. Because of dietary restrictions, I used 1/4 cup Truvia brown sugar blend and 3/4 cup King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative and this worked out well, not overly sweet. I forgot to add some walnuts, but definitely will next time. I used a very good olive oil that I reserve only for baking and recipes where the evoo flavor comes forward. There seemed to be a lot of batter so I used a springform pan and was glad I did because I think it would have overflowed a regular 9 in cake pan. I took the cake out of the oven at 50 minutes (after loosely covering the top with foil when it started to look quite brown), but I think it could have used another 4-5 minutes. I’ll definitely make this cake again and I’m so happy I found you online, Suzy! Thanks for your hard work and expertise!

  7. Hi. Can I prep this cake batter the day before, store in the refrigerator, and then bake it the next day? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Karen. This cake is best eaten within a few days, but you can freeze leftovers and thaw overnight in the fridge.

  8. Hi Suzy.
    Can i make it with tinned pears instead ?
    I love your website kerp up the good work you're a star.
    Bye
    Phil

    1. Thank you so much, Phil. I'm not sure if I can really answer your question, as I've never made that substitution. I think this recipe may work with pears, but I would worry that tinned pears would turn out too mushy. If you give it a try, please stop back and share your thoughts.

  9. Is there a non egg version of this? I have made this so many times and love it and now need to make it for someone who doesn't eat egg. Please let me know?!

    1. Hi, Smitha. Other readers have tried substituting eggs with applesauce. I've not done this personally, but it sounds like it may work.

  10. I cut the recipe in half to try it out for hubby and me, and baked it in a loaf pan. To reduce sugar, I used half sugar and half granulated Splenda. Also added chopped walnuts, and used Craisins in place of raisins (because that’s what I had on hand.) It’s a dense, crumbly cake with lots of flavor. I’ll happily make it again.

  11. Anyone try substituting maple syrup for the sugar? I’m going to try it as I’m trying to stay away from white sugar.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi, Cindy. Not sure about maple sugar, but other blog readers have tried substituting the sugar with honey with success. You may want to scroll through the comments here for inspiration.

  12. I've been using this recipe since the beginning of our first Lockdown 2 years ago and it's been our family's favourite dessert since then! Added some walnuts for a bit of crunchiness 😊👍

  13. I followed the recipe with a slight variation of an extra apple, I soaked the standard raisins longer than should have and one teaspoon of nutmeg. Soaked the Gala apples in natural orange juice. Although the cake was moist and crumbly (nice texture), it tasted slightly bitter and I can't work out why?