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Orange Olive Oil Cake — A super soft and moist cake that’s made with olive oil!! Orange zest, orange juice, and Gran Marnier add tons of AMAZING orange flavor to this easy, no-mixer cake that’s unique, refined, and INCREDIBLE!!
Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe
This easy, one-bowl, no-mixer orange cake is a huge eye-opening kind of cake for me. After blogging for nearly 10 years and making hundreds of cakes, this was my first ever cake made with olive oil. But it won’t be my last because it was supremely soft, tender, and exceedingly moist without being too heavy or dense.
You can literally almost see the moistness oozing from the olive oil cake, but it doesn’t taste greasy and it stays moist for days. I still had leftover cake that I forgot about in the back of my cupboard and a week later that was just as good as the first day, and even more moist. I don’t know how that’s possible but it happened.
I cannot say enough amazing things about this cake. A personal fave of mine for sure.
I have always preferred oil in cake rather than butter. Oil is 100% fat whereas butter is about 80% fat. That extra 20% of fat keeps oil-based cakes softer and moister than butter cakes. You can’t argue with science.
But I personally wouldn’t have known this orange olive oil cake was specifically olive oil based on taste alone. Olive oil has quite a distinct flavor in comparison to canola or vegetable oil and I went into the cake thinking I’d be able to taste the olive oil specifically and prominently but it wasn’t like that. Very subtly, yes, but not distinctly.
What I tasted more than anything was the orange flavor. The cake has orange flavor incorporated three ways: orange zest, orange juice, and Gran Marnier liqueur. I realize it’s a bit of a pricier liqueur, but I highly recommend it here.
The olive oil cake itself if not overly sweet by any means. It would be the perfect cake to serve after a fancier dinner party with equally rich or luxurious food.
I liken this orange cake to cakes served in fancy restaurants. They are never sugar bombs, even the chocolate ones. They are more refined and tend to have unique flavor pairings that you don’t encounter often.
I dusted the cake with confectioners’ sugar rather than making a glaze or frosting and it was perfect. I almost made a glaze with confectioners’ sugar and Gran Marnier and may try that next time but simply dusting the cake with confectioners’ sugar was so fast and easy.
I cannot wait to make this olive oil cake again, especially in the winter for holiday parties and events. It is a talking piece kind of cake rather than just another chocolate cake that we’ve all had a zillion times. Unique and different in the best possible way.
I gave half the cake to some ladies at my daughter’s school and they loved it. Every time I’ve since encountered them, they are all still thanking me for this cake!
What’s in This Olive Oil Cake?
To make this orange olive oil cake, you’ll need:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Whole milk
- Orange zest and juice
- Gran Marnier
- Granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Confectioners’ sugar
How to Make Olive Oil Cake
This olive oil cake recipe couldn’t be simpler to make! Just whisk together the wet ingredients, then add in the dry.
Turn the batter into a greased and lined 9-inch springform pan. Bake until the orange cake is golden brown and domed in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
You’ll need to let this olive oil cake cool for a few minutes before turning out of the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
What’s the Best Olive Oil to Use in Cake?
I used Trader Joe’s Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and while I’m sure the flavor of the cake will change depending on the exact brand and type of oil used, I recommend a quality extra-virgin olive oil here. Something you’d dip bread in, cook chicken in, or use in a homemade salad dressing.
Can I Omit the Gran Marnier?
You only use 1/4 cup in the entire cake, which doesn’t sound like much but it’s also something I wouldn’t skip. It adds a luxurious flavor that is so elegant tasting.
If you don’t drink alcohol for whatever the reason, I cannot say how the cake will taste or turn out if you, for example, just use 1/4 cup water in its place or use an extra 1/4 cup orange juice. Adding more orange juice really worries me more because of the extra acidity in the OJ coupled with the baking soda/powder and I’m not sure what will happen.
My thoughts are that during baking, the potency of the actual alcohol bakes off and what you’re left with is simply the flavor. Again, it’s only 1/4 cup divided between a cake that will easily feed 8 to 10, so each person is maybe getting 1/2 teaspoon. Cough syrup has more.
Tips for Making Orange Olive Oil Cake
First and foremost, you must use a 9-inch springform cake pan for this olive oil cake recipe. Do not make this cake in a regular 9-inch cake pan. Most are only about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep, and this cake rises to about 2 1/2 to 3 inches on the sides and nearly 4 inches in the center. It will overflow in a regular 9-inch pan.
Also note that if you don’t want to buy an entire bottle of Gran Marnier you can purchase mini bottles that contain about 1/4 cup of liquid. This tip came from a reader who made this orange olive oil cake!
Lastly, this cake bakes in a fairly cool oven for a long duration. Don’t be alarmed if a small circular patch on the top of the cake appears to be burning early on in the baking process. Ultimately, it doesn’t darken much more and when the cake is done, the cake is approximately the same color as the initial dark patch.
- 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup orange freshly squeezed juice
- 1/4 cup Gran Marnier
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325F, add a circle of parchment paper to the base of a 9-inch springform pan, and spray the parchment paper and the sides of the pan very well with cooking spray; set aside. Do not make this cake in a regular 9-inch cake pan. Most are only about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep and this cake rises to about 2 1/2 to 3 inches on the sides and nearly 4 inches in the center. It will overflow in a regular 9-inch pan.
- To a large bowl, add the olive oil, eggs, and whisk well to emulsify and incorporate.
- Add the milk, orange zest, orange juice (I was able to get sufficient zest and juice from one large orange), Gran Marnier, and whisk to incorporate.
- Add the sugar and whisk to incorporate.
- Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and whisk until just incorporated; don’t overmix. The batter in on the thin side; this is normal.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, place pan on a baking sheet as insurance against a leaky springform pan, and bake for about 70 to 75 minutes. Start checking after 60 minutes since all ovens vary. Cake will be golden browned and domed in the center when done, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. **
- Allow cake to cool in the springform pan for about 1 hour before releasing it and allowing the cake to finish cooling on a wire rack.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar prior to serving.
- Cake will keep airtight at room temp for 1 week.
- **This cake bakes in a fairly cool oven for a long duration, low and slow. Don’t be alarmed if a small circular patch on the top of the cake appears to be burning early on in the baking process. Ultimately it doesn’t darken much more and when the cake is done, the cake is approximately the same color as the initial dark patch. This may or may not happen to you and possibly is just what happens in my oven, but I am pointing it out as nothing to worry about.
- Recipe adapted from Food52
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 583Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 455mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 1gSugar: 52gProtein: 6g
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Originally posted September 14, 2018 and reposted with updated text March 25, 2022.
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