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.
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.