Olive Oil Cake


I have been intrigued by olive oil cakes for some time now. I have tried several, all of which were fine but not glorious or worthy of a repeat. This one, however, by author Peta Mathais, and featured in the book A Treasury of New Zealand Baking ( edited by Lauraine Jacobs) really cinched it for me. And it is now in my pantheon of ‘must repeat’ desserts.

I share the recipe with readers here. I followed the directions and obtained fantastic results. This delicious cake has a soft texture, a fine crumb, and a wonderful, warm, sunny aroma from the olive oil which is seductive. It is baked in a springform pan, not a loaf pan, which gives it an elegant, dressed up appearance. I did not adorn the cake with berries or whipped cream; just a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

In the recipe headnote the author says that she uses her own olive oil for this recipe: I assume that means that she is an olive grower and olive oil presser. Instead, I gathered together my selection of Mediterranean olive oils and considered which to use. In the end, I decided to go for the gusto. I selected our Sicilian beauty, the Barbera Olio Novello ‘Nuovo Raccolto’ 2009 harvest oil, and let it play against the rest of the ingredients. I also used some Italian Moscato wine (which I happen to have an open bottle of) but there is leeway here, too, for other wines. I kept the cake under a glass cake dome, and it was amazing to watch how quickly Bob and I made it disappear.

Also, I must say that the other recipes in this cookbook are very, very appealing. And, according to a sticker pasted to the front of the book, all royalites from the sale of this book go to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Now those are calories worth something !

Olive Oil Cake

5 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
½ cup dessert wine
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 ½ ounces flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 extra egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the interior of a high-sided 9-inch springform cake pan with butter or non-stick baking spray and line the sides and bottom with parchment baking paper. Extend the paper lining 5-inches higher than the sides of the pan. Cut an additional 10-inch round piece of parchment paper, butter or spray it, and set it aside.

Beat the 5 egg yolks with half the sugar until pale and thick. Beat in the wine and the oil.
Sift the flour and salt together and fold into the egg yolk mixture.

Beat the 7 egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff, then gradually beat in the remaining sugar. Fold into the yolk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for another 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Turn off the oven. Cover the cake with the buttered or oiled piece of parchment paper and leave the cake in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack before removing the ring of the pan.

When cool, serve the cake plain or pile it with fresh berries such as raspberries or blackberries, dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

This cake will keep well because of the oil. It will keep for a week in an airtight container.


3 thoughts on “Olive Oil Cake

  1. Almost exactly my mother-in-law’s recipe. She was from a small town in the hills above Salerno, Italy. It is a delicious recipe. almost lemony. PS I like your new book of Green Tea. I especially like the fact the recipes are so clear and simple and accessible to lots of folk.

    • Hi Marlena,

      Thank you for your kind works about my green tea book. Keep your eyes peeled for our new book, The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook, A Guide To the World;s Best Teas which will be in bookstores in April. It’s nice that you have authentic family recipes from Italy to enjoy.

    • Thanks Marlena for your kind words, and I am glad that you like my book, Green Tea. Keep your eyes peeled for our new book: The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook, A Guide to the World’s Finest Teas. It will be published in April and available in bookstores nationwide. Its nice that you have family recipes from Italy to enjoy !

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