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


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. And, chocolate lovers, don't miss my chocolate 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


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.


  • 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


  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.)


  • 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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  1. In theory the recipe sounds great, but alas mine didn’t come out quite so good. Other than using less sugar mine came out very very crumbly and a little odd tasting. Not sure why. I gave it 5 stars cause it’s probably wonderful.

    1. Hi, Martine. We've never tried this on with dates, but I don't see why you couldn't use them here in place of the raisins. My suggestion would be to go with chopped. Enjoy!

  2. This cake is delicious! My family loved it. I followed the recipe as written. It is a beautiful, natural, rustic presentation with delicate flavors and ample moisture.

  3. This is an absolutely incredible recipe! And it's very adaptable. I substituted almond flour for half the wheat flour and used "flax eggs" to make the recipe vegan. Since almond flour is denser I did 1.5 times the baking powder. For two-thirds of the sugar I used xylitol plus a dash of guava syrup. I also soaked the raisins in rum. I added about a teaspoon of lemon zest. I added vanilla and also almond extracts. I had to bake it for about an hour, but it all came out just wonderfully.

  4. Salt. This recipe begs for salt. I can’t believe I didn’t realize too late that the recipe omits the very necessary ingredient that is salt. Just 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon. But come on, I cannot believe the published recipe does not include this. What an oversight. This cake had so much potential. Do not waste this much precious olive oil without also adding salt to the dry mix, otherwise you will be very sad and disappointed in the end.

  5. Delicious! I didn’t find it needed salt as some others have said. I added extra apples instead of the raisins (and soaked them in apple cider ahead of time). Added vanilla because…cake. In a 10” cake pan it only needed about 38-40 min. Not too sweet even with a cup of sugar and honey crisp apples. I brushed the top with some butter and dusted with cinnamon sugar for some added crunch.

  6. Any way to reduce the sugar in this recipe. I normally make healthy substitutions with applesauce, honey or maple syrup.

    1. Hi, Sandy. Other readers have had success substituting honey for the sugar in this recipe, so I would definitely give that a try!

      1. Subbing in honey or maple syrup will not reduce sugar…they are both sugars and agave is not healthy as it is primarily fructose….to reduce sugar use monk fruit, erythritol, or stevia.

    1. Hi, Jacqueline. This is Kate, Suzy's gluten free team member. I have made this several times using King Arthur Measure-for-Measure Gluten Free Flour. I find it to be a bit more crumbly when made gluten free, but still really yummy :). Not sure how it would work with almond flour, but that might be okay here, as well.

  7. I use grams or ounces when baking. What is the cup size used please.

    I have only just found your website but there are lots of recipes I plan to try savoury and sweet.

  8. Good morning Suzy…

    first I want to say “Thank you “ for sharing all of your wonderful recipes, family memories of where you grew up,your parents,and much more (I have your cookbook). I love reading all about your backgroun.

    My question: can I substitute plums for apples (or include plums in the Olive Oil cake recipe in your cookbook)?

    I saw the plum cake recipe on this website and it looks great! But I want to make the cake using olive oil.

    Thank you again!


    1. Thank you for the sweet note, Lisa! I think you could totally use plums in either recipe! If you do end up giving it, pleases stop back and let us know how it turned out!

    1. Yes! I think both would work here. We've never tried either ourselves, though, so if you give it a go, please stop back and let us know how everything worked out. We'd love to hear!

  9. Hello there, do I oil the parchment paper or does it pull off easily after cake has cooled?

    Thank you,


    1. No need to oil the parchment, Robin. We have found that it peels right off once the cake is cooled.

  10. Just wondering if you happen to have tried any of your wonderful looking cake recipes using almond or coconut flour and sugar replacements. I love the olive oil cakes but need to modify the flour and sweet. Thank you so much. I absolutely love all your recipes!

  11. I was so surprised to see no salt but made it as is. It definitely need 1/2 teaspoon of salt but very tasty otherwise.

    1. Hi, Paula. Sure! We've had success trying this with gluten free flour. It was a bit more crumbly, but still tasted delish!

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