This easy, moist lemon olive oil cake recipe is made with yogurt, coconut milk or juice. It's one of the best Mediterranean lemon desserts.
Whether you make it in a bundt pan or a spring-form pan, this Mediterranean style, lemon-scented cake is perfect for your afternoon coffee or tea, for a quick breakfast or even for dessert.
In Italy this lemon-scented cake is known as Ciambella or ciambellone, and because of the olive oil it has a fresh, fruity flavor, tender texture and stays moist for days!
Another version of a cake made with olive oil is this Greek vegan olive oil cake (fanouropita), flavored with cinnamon, orange zest and cloves.
- All-purpose flour or pastry flour (sifted).
- Baking powder.
- White granulated sugar.
- Lemon zest.
- Extra virgin olive oil with mild flavor.
- Yogurt (or milk or orange juice).
- Shredded coconut (optional).
- Shredded carrots (optional).
These are the basic steps for how to make this moist lemon olive oil cake. For the best results, all the ingredients should be at room temperature.
Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking powder.
Step 2: Transfer the sugar, the salt, the finely grated lemon zest and the eggs to a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat with a hand mixer (or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer) for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are pale in color and frothy.
Tip: the eggs will whip better if they are at room temperature.
Step 3: Continue beating and gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream. The egg mixture will start to look like mayonnaise.
Step 4: Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture alternating it with the yogurt (or coconut milk) and mix until smooth.
Step 5: Add the shredded coconut and the shredded carrot (if using) and gently mix for a few seconds until everything is combined. Don't over-mix your butter because the texture of the cake will be stiff.
Step 6: Pour the cake batter in the cake pan and bake.
Olive oil: For this recipe you can use another neutral tasting vegetable oil. But then it wouldn't be an olive oil cake, would it?
Lemon zest: Just as in these lemon possets, you can replace the lemon zest with orange zest, lime zest or tangerine zest. All these citrus flavors pair beautifully with the fruitiness of the olive oil.
I don't suggest replacing the zest with vanilla extract because the flavor of the oil will not let the vanilla to shine.
Yogurt: You can replace the yogurt with the same amount of coconut milk, milk, or orange juice. If you want to use Greek strained yogurt you should thin it with water or milk, because it has less moisture than regular yogurt.
Check this article for the best Greek yogurt substitutes and how to use them!
White sugar: Caster sugar, granulated sugar and light brown sugar can be used. Light brown sugar will give a subtle caramel flavor to the cake. I don't suggest dark brown sugar because the taste is too strong.
Most of the times I serve this lemon olive oil cake plain, with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.
For more special occasions you can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries on the side. Instead of the whipped cream, an easier (and healthier option) is to mix a cup of Greek strained yogurt with 1-2 tablespoons of honey.
Lemon - coconut flavor
Add half a cup of shredded coconut to the batter to give this cake an exotic touch. In this case, you can also use coconut milk instead of the yogurt
Orange – shredded carrot flavor
Another variation my mom often makes is the orange-carrot flavor. In this case, the lemon zest is replaced by orange zest, the yogurt is replaced with orange juice and half a cup of shredded carrots is mixed in the cake batter at the end. The grated carrot makes the cake even more moist and tender.
Orange – coconut – carrot
For the third variation of this cake, you'll add both the shredded coconut and the carrot to the batter. You can leave the rest of the ingredients as is, or you can replace the yogurt with coconut milk or orange juice and the lemon zest with orange zest. Whatever you decide, the end result will be delicious.
Instead of making this cake into 9" spring-form pan you can also make it into a 10-cup a bundt pan. Make sure to grease and flour the bottom and the sides of the pan and also line the bottom with parchment paper. For easier un-molding, first run a thin knife around the edges of the pan.
Once cooled, this olive oil cake should be wrapped with plastic wrap or transferred into an airtight container and stored at room temperature.
It will last for at least 4-5 days. If you want to keep it longer you should store it in the refrigerator.
When eating an olive oil cake you can taste the fruity character of the olive oil and the moistness it provides. That's why it pairs very well will lemon and orange flavors. If you're afraid that it will taste exactly like olive oil, then the answer is no.
According to healthline.com extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils, full of mono-unsaturated and unsaturated fats. By substituting olive oil for butter you definitely make a healthier choice, but if you're interested in the general nutritional value of the cake, you should also take into account other parameters such as the sugar content.
Use extra virgin olive oil because it is the most flavorful and of highest quality. It's produced without the use of chemicals and without the use of heat (which can decrease the quality). It has a rich, fruity flavor with peppery notes and the most health benefits of the other types of olive oil.
Moist lemon olive oil cake (easy recipe)
- 1 9" spring-form pan with tall sides or a 10-cup bundt pan.
- 1 electric mixer
- 2 ½ cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour - 300grams
- 3 teaspoons baking powder - 9grams
- 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar - 300grams
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- finely grated lemon zest from 2 medium lemons or the zest from 1 orange.
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil with mild flavor - 160grams
- ¾ cup yogurt (or milk or orange juice) - 190grams
- ½ cup shredded coconut, (optional)
- ½ cup loosely packed shredded carrots, (optional)
- Powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar) for dusting
- Butter and extra flour for greasing and flouring the pan
- Bring all of the ingredients to room temperature for best results.
- Grease and flour a 9" spring-form pan (or a 10-cup bundt pan) and preheat your oven to 350 ˚F (175 ˚C).
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a small bowl whisk together the flour and the baking powder.
- Egg mixture: Transfer the sugar, the salt, the finely grated lemon zest, and the eggs to a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and beat with a hand mixer (or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer) for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are pale in color and frothy.
- Add the oil: Continue beating and gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream. The mixture will start to look like mayonnaise.
- Add the dry ingredients: Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add half of the flour mixture following by half of the yogurt.Stir until mixed and add the rest of the flour and the rest of the yogurt.If using, add the coconut and carrot. Stir for a few seconds until everything is combined. Don't over-mix your batter because the texture of the cake will be stiff.
- Bake: Pour the cake batter into the pan and tap the pan on the countertop to remove any air bubbles.Bake in the lower-middle rack of the oven for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Unmold: Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool completely.Once cooled, dust with confectioners' sugar.
- Room temperature eggs will whip much faster than eggs straight from the fridge.
- I suggest using butter for greasing the pan, because when using olive oil the cake sometimes sticks.
- If you only have a strong flavored olive oil you can use 50% of that and 50% a neutral tasting vegetable oil like corn oil or sunflower oil.
- Choose organic lemons (or orange) for the zest because otherwise they can be waxed.
Baking recipes with olive oil
If you're wondering if you can bake with olive oil, then the answer is: yes, totally! Throughout the Mediterranean, there are countless recipes using olive oil for baking. Check out some of our most popular recipes: