This orange cardamom olive oil cake recipe is simple, delicious, and laced with bold flavors of bright orange and fragrant cardamom! The use of olive oil makes for a superior moist texture and irresistibly rich taste.
I’m a big fan of using oranges in both sweet and savory recipes. A quick search of the site and you will find oranges used in my refreshing Mediterranean orange and pomegranate salad, hearty orange harissa lamb chops, and even mixed into red sangria! However, one of my favorite ways to use oranges is in desserts.
So, of course, when I wrote The Mediterranean Dish cookbook, I had to include this recipe for my citrusy orange olive oil cake! The perfect fusion of sweet and savory flavors, this olive oil cake recipe features bright, bold notes of orange along with a subtle sweetness and warm notes from the cardamom. One bite, and you’ll be hooked!
This is not your typical super sweet icing-topped cake. Due to the olive oil this cake stays moist and tender for days, which means it's a good make ahead option for larger gatherings. It's a delightful treat for holiday dinners, weekend brunch, and everything in between.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You’ll Need
This orange cardamom olive oil cake requires just a few baking staples, fresh oranges, and cardamom. Here’s everything you’ll need to bring it to life:
- Extra virgin olive oil: Good quality, fruity or more neutral-tasting olive oil like our California olive oil is perfect in this cake. Subtle and delicious, it helps enhance the orange flavor and provides moisture without overwhelming the taste of the cake.
- All-purpose flour: To form the base of the batter. You can use a 1:1 gluten-free flour alternative if needed. Your cake will be slightly more dense but just as scrumptious!
- Kosher salt: A crucial flavor enhancer, bringing out the natural taste of the rest of the ingredients.
- Baking powder: Used in combination with baking soda to help the cake rise.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is my go-to here to magnify the sweetness of the orange.
- Ground cardamom: One of the more pungent spices in Mediterranean cooking, cardamom is a fairly warm spice with subtle lemony undertones that pair beautifully with orange.
- Eggs: Help provide structure to the cake.
- Orange: Both orange zest and orange juice are used for an utterly irresistible recipe.
- Milk: Use whole milk or a plant-based alternative to combine the ingredients and create a smooth batter.
- Confectioner’s sugar: Also called powdered sugar, this is technically optional but highly recommended for sprinkling on top to add a little extra sweetness and create a picture-worthy presentation.
How to Make Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake
Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan: To prevent the cake from sticking, brush the bottom and sides of the cake pan with olive oil. Then, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, and dust it with a bit of flour. Just be sure to shake off any excess.
Mix the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom.
Beat the wet ingredients with sugar: Combine 1 ½ cups of the sugar, and eggs in a separate bowl, and using the highest setting on a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the ingredients until they are thick and fluffy. With the blades running, drizzle in the olive oil. Once it is fully incorporated, reduce the speed to low, and add ½ the orange zest, orange juice, and milk. Beat again until the ingredients are smooth.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Working slowly, incorporate the flour mixture into the bowl of wet ingredients. Mix on low just until you have a uniform batter, and be careful not to overmix! Otherwise, your cake will turn out dense and tough, and no one wants that!
Bake the cake: Pour the prepared olive oil cake batter into the pan, and sprinkle the top with the rest of the sugar. Bake until the center is set. It’s important to note that every oven bakes differently. So, be sure to keep a close eye on your cake, and begin checking it after 30 minutes! You’ll know it’s done baking when a skewer can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.
Cool and serve: Once removed from the oven, allow the orange olive oil cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. To ensure it comes out intact, run a small knife all the way around the edge of the pan. Then, invert the cake onto a large plate, and invert it once more, flipping it right side up onto a rack to finish cooling. To finish, a dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle a little orange zest.
Why Use Olive Oil in Cake
To help answer your questions about olive oil, I wrote this extensive guide on How to Cook with Olive Oil. It's a staple of the Mediterranean Diet and I will forever celebrate its value. If you want to go deep read that guide. For the short answer yes, you can bake cakes with olive oil and here's why.
- Kept at room temperature, olive oil is a liquid and therefore adds unmatched levels of moisture to cake over time, allowing it to stay tender longer than if it was made with butter.
- Using any olive oil in place of butter reduces the amount of saturated fat found in the recipe. It replaces that fat with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which can improve cholesterol among other benefits listed here.
- High-quality extra virgin olive oil adds a rich, slightly fruity flavor to this recipe without being overbearing.
That said, it’s extremely important to choose a high-quality olive oil with a flavor profile complementary to the other ingredients.
For instance, you don't want a strong peppery olive oil like Early Harvest Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is primarily used in savory recipes like my simple herb-tossed sweet potato recipe. Instead, opt for a fruity, delicately flavored variety like our California olive oil to enhance the sweet fruity flavors.
What to Serve with Orange Olive Oil Cake
Where I grew up, people love their tea time. This olive oil cake makes for the perfect sweet treat to accompany an afternoon cup of Arabic tea with fresh mint. Or, serve it at a cocktail party alongside carajillo, a Spanish spiked coffee drink.
Although this olive oil cake is fantastic as is a little something extra can really bring out the wow factor! Sometimes, I just can't help myself!
For a truly show stopping dessert try:
- Add a dollop of whipped cream
- Dust with powdered sugar
- A spoonful of vanilla yogurt is always nice
- Top with fresh fruit such as orange segments, blueberries, or even cranberries for a festive twist! Yum!
More Amazing Cake Recipes
Try our Arbequina
Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
Yes! You can bake with olive oil! You want something mild and fruity like our Arbequina oil. Try it today!
Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, fruity, more neutral-tasting, plus extra for the pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 ½ cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Grated zest of 2 oranges, plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk or plant-based alternative
- 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
- Prepare the oven: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the baking pan: Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with a little olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and dust with a bit of the flour, shaking out the excess.
- Mix together dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Beat the wet ingredients with sugar: In a large bowl, combine the 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, cardamom, and eggs. Using an electric hand mixer set on high, beat the mixture until thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use a stand mixer on high speed). While the mixer is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add half the orange zest, the orange juice, and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Add the flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix on low just until you have a uniform batter.
- Bake the cake: Pour the cake batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center is set and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (ovens do vary, so check your cake at 30 minutes and go from there).
- Cool the cake: Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then run a small knife around the edge, invert the cake onto a large plate, then invert again onto a rack to cool completely.
- Serve: Before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar and sprinkle with orange zest.
- Make ahead. Olive oil keeps cakes tender and moist for longer, which makes this recipe an easy choice for holiday menu planning. Make it a day or to in advance and it will still taste fresh when your guests arrive.
- Olive oil is truly wonderful in baking recipes, but you want to use the right kind because olive oil is as nuanced as wine. You want something mild and fruity for this cake like our California Arbequina olive oil. Stay away from spicy or peppery flavors like our Spanish Hojiblanca olive oil. I prefer to use that in more savory dishes.
- Swap it. If you don't have cardamom on hand try cinnamon. It's a natural pairing with orange. You can try it in our Orange Cinnamon Challah French Toast recipe.
- Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, spices, and more.