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Olive Oil Orange Cake

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This Olive Oil Orange Cake is extra moist, tender and full of flavor.  Plus, it is refined sugar-free!  Fresh orange juice and zest give the cake the right amount of citrus, and olive oil keeps the cake moist and adds sophisticated flavor.

Olive oil and orange cake with orange slices

Fist and foremost, can you taste the olive oil?  Yes and no.  It by no means tastes like a breadstick dipped in olive oil, but there is a slight note of the oil, but it meshes well with the citrus flavor.  

What I love most about this cake is that it is not overly sweet.  That seems to be an overwhelming theme with cakes I like … Because it is not too sweet, it can be enjoyed morning, noon and night.  

The Orange Olive Oil Cake in a nutshell …

Olive oil – makes the cake incredibly moist and gives a slight taste that pairs deliciously with the citrus.

Fresh orange juice and zest – there is nothing more refreshing than the fresh flavor of citrus (in my little opinion).  It keeps the cake flavor light and adds the right amount of sweetness.  I chose navel oranges because they tend to be juicier.  You could try blood oranges, or maybe even pomelo’s (a cross between an orange and grapefruit) to give you a sweet/tart flavor.

Cornmeal – if you have not tried this in a sponge or butter cake, you must.  I also used it in my Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake and it adds a wonderful texture and bite to the cake crumb.

Honey to sweeten – you could use granulated sugar if you prefer.  If so, swap the 3/4 cup of honey for 1 cup of granulated sugar.  I chose honey not only to test the sweetness added to my cake recipes but also for the flavor of honey.  Think of honey and orange, or honey and cornbread (if you’re into that :)) – the honey ramps up the citrus flavor and also adds hints of floral and fruity notes.

Slice of olive oil and orange cake

Honey as the Cake Sweetener

To elaborate on the honey, it does have some health benefits over sugar.  Now, I’m no Dr. and all of this is based on my research and by no means is to offer medical advice (I had to disclose that, right! :)) … but here is why I like using honey (or other sweetener alternatives, i.e. maple syrup or coconut sugar) when I can:

  • Honey is lower on the glycemic index than granulated sugar.  Meaning it does not raise blood sugar as much.
  • It is made up of less fructose and glucose than granulated sugar.  The rest of the honey is made up of water, pollen, and minerals like magnesium and potassium. 
  • It is not as processed as granulated sugar.   This helps to retain the trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.

With all this good stuff, it is still a sugar, so it still has calories but because of its sweetness, you tend to use less.  Moral of this story – everything in moderation.

Piece of orange olive oil cake on a plate

Now that I’ve covered your food science lesson for the day, back to the cake.

Making the Cake

The cake is pretty easy to make.  No mixer required and just one mixing bowl.  I like easy!  Don’t slice the oranges too far in advance because you want them to be nice and juicy when you add them on top of the cake.

I opted for my go-to whipped coconut cream, but instead of sweetening with maple syrup, I used honey.  Simply to complement the honey flavor in the cake.  When you arrange the oranges on top of the whipped cream, you will get some orange juices that flow into the cream, but that’s just more flavor!

What I just realized – you can eat cake and get a good dose of Vitamin C for the day … bonus! 🙂

Single slice of orange olive oil cake on a plate

Olive Oil Orange Cake

Yield: 10 Slices
This Olive Oil Orange Cake is extra moist, tender and full of flavor.  Plus, it is refined sugar-free!  Fresh orange juice and zest give the cake the right amount of citrus, and olive oil keeps the cake moist and adds sophisticated flavor.
Prep20 minutes
Cook40 minutes
Total1 hour


  • 9-Inch Round Cake Pan


For the Cake

  • 3 large navel oranges (reserve 1 for zesting and juicing)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from reserved orange)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from reserved orange)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (good quality, extra virgin)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Whipped Cream Topping


  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees and adjust rack to middle position.  Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan – tap out excess flour and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut to fit.
  • In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, zest one of the oranges using a microplane rasp, then juice the orange.  Add the milk, eggs, honey and olive oil and whisk until completely combined.   
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.  Add the liquid ingredients and gently mix with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Do not overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Invert the cake onto the wire rack, then re-invert so it is right side up – and cool the cake completely.    
  • While the cake is cooling, peel 2 of the oranges using a small paring knife to remove the rind and pith.  Slice the whole oranges into thin slices.    
  • Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the coconut solids into a small mixing bowl.  Add the honey and vanilla extract and using a hand-held mixer, beat on medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes, or until soft peaks form.  
  • Once the cake is completely cool, top with the whipped cream and spread to just the edge of the cake.  Arrange the orange slices on top of the whipped cream.  Serve and enjoy!
  • The cake is best served at room temperature.  Leftovers should be stored in a refrigerator (because of the whipped cream).  Cover cut ends of the cake with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.  The entire cake can be covered with plastic wrap, though the best way to store the cake is in a cake carrier in the fridge. 
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

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