TikTok creators and pastry chefs alike drizzle on the golden stuff to keep cakes moist for days.
Whether I’m scanning the dessert menu for a large plate of cacio e pepe or choosing which pastry to pair with my lunchtime coffee order, olive oil cake always seems to be at the top of the list. It’s no surprise that these sunny and rich cakes are making their way into my heart Instagram And tick tock Feed: Olive oil cakes are a low-effort, high-reward baker’s dream, and everyone from pastry chefs to home bakers wants a rich cake that stays moist on the countertop for days.
“Even bakeries add oil to their self-proclaimed butter-based cakes to keep them as moist as possible for days after you buy them,” says pastry chef Pichet Ong, whose imaginative desserts have garnered critical acclaim in places like… P*ong in New York City and Brothers and Sisters in Washington, DC. Oils, in their greasy glory, remain liquid at room temperature and retain moisture for days. Butter contains 20% less fat than regular cooking oils and solidifies at room temperature, resulting in a significantly drier crumb unless fresh from the oven. This moisture loss can be hidden in a syrup-soaked or frosted cake. But if you’re baking a simple, single-layer cake, olive oil provides soft moisture and a nuanced savory flavor without the need for soaking or frosting.
Olive oil cakes likely originated in the Mediterranean, where bakers used their popular local olives as an added fat rather than the more expensive butter. But using olive oil as a cheat code enjoyed a renaissance in the baking-heavy era of early pandemic lockdowns when Brooklyn-based baker Yossy Arefi did us all a favor and released it cake for snackinga bible on how to get the art in a nutshell Short and sweet cake baking. From a pumpkin and olive oil recipe to a chocolate almond and olive oil recipe, Arefi heralded olive oil as a baking shortcut when dessert people needed it the most. But if the state of my TikTok feed is any indication, olive oil cakes have skyrocketed in popularity ever since.
Lubricating your cake recipes with olive oil isn’t as easy as substituting equal amounts of EVOO for a butter-based recipe. Making the perfect olive oil cake requires more olive oil than you might expect — a 9-inch round cake requires between ¾ and 1 cup of the good stuff — as well as a stable emulsion. Simply mixing olive oil into your wet ingredients creates a greasy mouthfeel and dense crumb. To avoid this mess, a good olive oil cake recipe requires first emulsifying whole eggs and sugar into a cohesive base by whipping them with an electric mixer, before slowly pouring in olive oil to encourage further aeration without that the dough bursts. “This mix of proteins and fats provides an even crumb and fluffiness in olive oil cakes,” explains Ong. After the olive oil is fully emulsified, it’s time to add your other liquids, whether it’s orange juice for some spiciness or, like Ong, dairy for even more richness.
And on the subject of “good” olive oil, I have a few suggestions. Personal taste will dictate how grassy or spicy you want it. When baking olive oil cakes for a group of people with different olive oil preferences, I use Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil to give it a mild peppery note that distinguishes it from a neutral oil but doesn’t overwhelm one person’s taste buds. But for a more adventurous crowd, there’s an olive oil specialty like Brightland’s LIVELY adds a deep grassy, olive-like flavor.
Unlike flashier desserts, olive oil cake doesn’t need layering or embellishments to captivate everyone in its midst. Its complex, savory flavor and striking yellow tones exude elegance by nature, much like a sophisticated, naked slice of chocolate cake. These minimalist desserts might only need a spoonful of whipped cream to make the aesthetic impact, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop there. Just check out the viral cover star of Claire Saffitz’s best-selling cookbook dessert person: a moist olive oil cake topped with flaked, caramelized blood orange slices.
Citrus is the most common counterpart to olive oil cake, but I’ll wait for any dinner party excuse to serve up a ricotta olive oil cake with roasted grapes. Instead of adding yogurt or sour cream as mentioned above, I would substitute ricotta cheese for the wet ingredients and oven-broil a grape or two to serve with each slice. Chocolate lovers can turn to baker extraordinaire and cookbook author Melissa Clark, who complements the intense savory notes of olive oil with bitter cocoa. your prescription from With a good appetite in the kitchen Readjusts the ingredient proportions of an olive oil cake by reducing the amount of flour to compensate for the cocoa powder dissolved in a flavorful hot liquid such as coffee or wine.
You don’t have to be a cookbook author to unlock the baking potential of olive oil. A good dash of peppery, high-quality oil can help even the most serious home baker to think outside the box of iconic flavors and balance the sweetness without complicating the process. A bonus: it guarantees a remarkably perfect crumb. If you’re looking for a delicious cake recipe that tastes even better the next day, the best place to start is with a cup of olive oil in hand.