Recipe: Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Every year during the holiday season, my mom would make something special for all of our neighbors and I would always help her make it, or at the very least help package the delicious homemade goodies and deliver them around the neighborhood.  Over the years, she made all sorts of yummy treats from sweet and savory nut mixes to assorted holiday cookies, but my favorite was her almond poppyseed bread with a fresh squeezed orange glaze. She would make tiny loaves for all of our neighbors and we would package them in festive cello bags tied with a ribbon — so fancy, I thought! 

All photos by Anna Petrow. 

All photos by Anna Petrow. 

I think we can all agree that some of the best gifts that bring the fondest memories are those that were handmade by someone we love.  One of my favorite things to make during the cold months of the holiday season when local produce is hard to find is this Citrus Olive Oil Cake.  When I lived in Boston, I worked as the head pastry chef at a great bakery called Sofra, where I also got the privilege of teaching pastry classes to the public.  I would teach people how to make things that we made there at the bakery, but I was also given the opportunity to teach a few of my favorite personal baked goods as well.  And this cake was one of them.

It is moist, flavorful in both savory and sweet ways, and best of all it easy to throw together.  You can bake it in a round cake pan with citrus slices on the bottom and flip it after it is cool to create a wonderful upside-down cake effect, or you can bake it in a muffin pan and serve it with salted butter for breakfast.  I have also cut this cake into layers and filled it with cream cheese icing— one of my go-to birthday cakes.  As versatile as it is, one of my favorite ways to bake it is in a loaf pan, wrapped in a cello bag with a ribbon, given as a gift.  As a little girl, I thought my mom’s homemade gifts were so fancy, but it is not the fanciness that made them special: it was the love and care that she put into making them.

This recipe is adapted from one of my all-time favorite bloggers/food writers/authors/restaurateurs, Molly Wizenberg, and she adapted it from a restaurant chef in Boonville, California who got it from his mother who quite possibly got it from a Boston Globe article.  Just goes to show, recipes are made for sharing.  It was a huge hit in my class at Sofra and I know you will love it, too.  Make. This. Cake.




CItrus Olive Oil Cake

adapted from Molly Wizenberg


1 small orange (organic - you will be using the rind)

1 lemon  (organic)


7 oz                 Almond Flour, Bobs Red Mill makes a good one (or you can make your                            own by grinding toasted almonds)

5 oz (1 c)         All-Purpose Flour

18 g (1T)          Baking Powder


4 ea                 Eggs, large

1/2 t                 Salt


10.5 oz (1.5c)   Sugar

3/4 c                Olive Oil


Cover lemon and orange in a pot with enough water to cover them by an inch and bring to a boil.  Once the water comes to a boil, turn down to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the skins can be easily pierced by a fork.  Drain and set aside to cool.

While citrus is simmering, prep the rest of your ingredients.  Mix almond flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder in a small bowl.  Crack eggs into a bowl and measure out your sugar.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  If you are making your own almond flour, this would be a good time to do so!

Once the fruit is cool enough to handle, cut each one in half and extract the seeds - they should be easy to get out since the fruit is quite soft.  Process in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.  You may have to scrape down the bowl and pulse a few times.

Beat the eggs and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until slightly foamy, then gradually add the sugar.  Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.

Add olive oil in a slow stream with mixer on medium speed.  Add the dry ingredients and citrus puree, mixing only until combined.  Scrape the bowl down very well and mix again for one minute.

Pour the batter into a 9” cake pan* sprayed and lined with parchment- or slice some lemons and oranges thinly, arrange of the bottom of your pan and pour your batter on top.  Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Turn cake out onto wire rack to cool.



*This makes two 9” x 4” loaf pans - whatever pan you choose just make sure it is filled 3/4 full of batter. Bake time will vary, but the cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the center.