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. 

orange cardamom olive oil cake topped with orange slices on a plate with one slice cut.
Photo Credit: Caitlin Bensel

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
  1. Ingredients You’ll Need
  2. How to Make Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake
    1. Why Use Olive Oil in Cake
  3. What to Serve with Orange Olive Oil Cake
  4. More Amazing Cake Recipes
  5. Try our Arbequina
  6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
  7. Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake Recipe

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. 
close up of an orange cardamom olive oil cake on a plate with one slice cut.

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.

an entire orange cardamom olive oil cake on a plate.
Photo Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Why Use Olive Oil in Cake

You know I love my olive oil! I've used it in recipes like my banana walnut bread and Italian apple olive oil cake. However, I’m still asked quite frequently whether or not it can be used in baking.

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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
  3. 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.  

a slice of orange cardamom olive oil cake on a plate with a fork.

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

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop.

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!

arbequina olive oil from the mediterranean dish.
4.91 from 31 votes

Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake

Suzy Karadsheh
orange cardamom olive oil cake one a plate topped with orange slices with one slice cut.
A simple dessert that only requires a few baking staples, oranges and cardamom. The star ingredient here is a high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which not only creates a moist texture, but also adds a rich, slightly fruity flavor to this orange olive oil cake.
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 40 mins
Cooling Time 30 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 12
Course:
Dessert

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 367.9kcalCarbohydrates: 43.5gProtein: 4.4gFat: 20.2gSaturated Fat: 3.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 13.7gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 278.3mgPotassium: 83.5mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 27.5gVitamin A: 106.2IUVitamin C: 1.4mgCalcium: 61.5mgIron: 1.3mg
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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. Hi, Kathy. I have tried this with King Arthur's Measure for Measure Gluten Free flour before. It was a bit more crumbly than the regular flour version, but it was still delish!

  1. 4 stars
    The flavor of this cake is great, although I would increase the ground cardamom by at least 1/2 to 1 full additional teaspoon, but that’s just my personal preference. I rubbed the orange zest into the sugar with my fingertips to increase the scent and would add the cardamom to that step next time as well.

    I found my oven required an extra 20 (!!!) minutes to cook this all the way through despite having recently calibrated the temperature. This cake batter is very, very liquid - way more liquify than any other cake I’ve made in my life, including other olive oil cakes (and another orange cardamom olive oil cake I’ve made recently!). It ended up a bit heavy, with the bottom layer of my cake with a compressed section. I might tweak the proportions next time as I don’t know if it would turn out better for me with less milk and a bit less olive oil. I might try half the milk and 3/4 cup of olive oil for this volume of flour and eggs to have a lighter cake rather than super dense.

  2. 5 stars
    This cake is super moist and flavorful. Thinking of adding icing or frosting, I wouldn't; it would definitely take away from the flavor of the cake. I made two cakes for New Year's Day. One daughter had one bite and said we shouldn't have given the second cake away. (I agreed with her!).

  3. Made this cake today and it is amazing. Absolutely saving this recipe to make again and again! Very happy with how it turned out. Thank you!

  4. Hi Suzy,
    I love your recipes & recently purchased your cookbook. It looks like this recipe in the cookbook is missing a step of mixing the wet and dry ingredients together.
    Also, I’m a diabetic & would love to see a nutritional breakdown for the recipes.
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Bridget! Thanks for reaching out. We've made our publisher aware of the missing step for this recipe in the cookbook so it will be corrected in future editions. Regarding the nutritional breakdown.... we do try to do that here on the site as much as possible. We did not add nutritional information in the cookbook because that is something that's not traditionally done unless the book is specifically diet or health related. I'm so sorry about that.

  5. 4 stars
    Will comment again, followed recipe exactly, the batter is way more than my 9inch pan, switched to 10 inch springform. Will update accordingly.