olive oil cake with lemon and yogurt

This is a slight variation on a cake I’ve made before, which I guess makes it my go-to cake. It’s good to have one of those up your sleeve, especially for weeknight entertaining or a quiet birthday celebration. Or, in this case, both, plus a game of Clue. What can I say? My husband’s one birthday wish was to play Clue with friends, so we all happily obliged.

This variation features a subtle sweetness and the flavor of olive oil. The light, tender crumb has a hint of the savory. The moistness is boosted by a tangy, sweet glaze that soaks into the cake like invisible frosting. Sort of perfect, really.

For a frosted cake I usually go with the classic 1-2-3-4 cake. But after so many successes with this versatile recipe, I am considering using this as the base for my next frosted cake. I’ll keep you posted.

Olive Oil Cake with Yogurt and Lemon

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3/4 + 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 room temperature eggs
zest of 1 lemon, grated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9″ cake pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, or the bowl for your stand mixer (in this case use the paddle attachment), combine the yogurt, 3/4 cup of sugar, eggs, zest, and vanilla. Either stir in, or with your mixer on low, add the flour mixture a little at a time. When ingredients are fully combined, slowly fold in the oil.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, and cook 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top of the cake is just golden. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.

Carefully flip the cooled cake onto a large plate and drizzle with the glaze. Serve immediately.


  1. Deanna says

    I've never made an olive oil cake. I've heard they're delicious but I just flash back to when I was 9 and decided to make a boxed cake with olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I have some friends going to Italy soon so I might suck it up and make this for their going away party. Do you think rosemary would be good in it?

  2. elizabeth says

    Hi Deanna, I think this recipe woud be great with rosemary. You might try adding a few spring to the glaze and steeping them while the cake bakes. Then you could call it "olive oil cake with a rosemary-infused glaze," and that sounds really fancy.

  3. Sandra van Nood says

    If you want to use extra-virgin olive oil it should be the ‘hojiblanca’ type. This is a spanish olive oil with a ‘soft’ taste which does very well in cakes.


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