Lemon Olive Oil Cake


One of our favorite West Seattle restaurants, Shadowland, used to serve an olive oil cake that Marvin and I loved.  It was such a great dessert… simple, moist and delicious, with just a hint of olive oil flavor shining through. Even though it’s been off the menu for a couple of years, we still ask about it, but apparently it’s not coming back. So this weekend I finally decided to try and replicate it at home.

First I needed a recipe. I found one on Epicurious that sounded relatively easy (if you have a stand mixer) and Saturday night we tried it out. The cake came out of the oven looking lovely and smelling nice and lemony, but I thought the texture was too dry. The flavor was definitely right, and  Marvin somehow managed to choke down three pieces, so I knew it wasn’t too horrible. I wrapped up the leftovers and put the cake in the fridge overnight and, surprise… it actually got better! (Yes, I ate cake for breakfast today).

I decided to try the recipe again and take a suggestion from my friend, Mike – brush the top with Limoncello straight from the oven. Nice. I also cut down on the baking time. The changes made a big difference. I think we’ve got a winner here! Lemony and sweet, light and bright. This cake really does store well refrigerated for a few days and would make a great holiday gift. Or a great breakfast. Your choice.
Makes 1 – 9″ x 5″ loaf pan

lemon, light and delicious


Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: A Passionate Plate
Lemony, sweet, light and bright – this cake will make your day go right!
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Limoncello liqueur
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. (If you are using a convection oven, adjust temperature to 340.) Prepare the loaf pan. Grease the bottom and sides lightly with olive oil, then line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper with a little more olive oil, and dust the bottom and sides of pan with flour.
  2. Zest the lemon, then juice the lemon and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the 5 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed until they are thick and pale, approximately 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and slowly add the olive oil and 1 – 1/2 Tbsps. lemon juice (save remaining lemon juice for glaze). Add the flour and lemon zest and fold in gently with a spatula.
  4. Scoop the batter out of the mixing bowl into a large bowl and set aside. Clean the mixing bowl and whisk attachment and dry them thoroughly. (This is a really important step. If you have any water or oil in left in the mixing bowl, the egg whites will not whip correctly).
  5. Add the 4 egg whites to the mixing bowl and beat on high speed until foamy. Continue beating on high, and slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue beating just until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar.
  6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until the top is brown and a toothpick comes out dry – there may still be crumbs on the toothpick, but they won’t be wet, like batter (this only took 40 minutes in my convection oven). Don’t overbake or the cake will be dry. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack.
  7. Brush the top of the cake with the Limoncello then let the cake cool completely. Prepare the glaze. Whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice until smooth. Pour glaze over cooled cake. Let glaze set, then cut and serve. Or, wrap well and store in the refrigerator for up to a few days. It gets better!


  1. […] Love lemon recipes? Try our Lemon Lavender Cookies or Lemon Olive Oil Cake. […]

  2. Snowe says:

    Hi Mary,

    It’s still cookie day two doors down from you and as my friend Laura and I rotate cookies out of the oven and into our mouths, we take turns peeking at your blog. It’s fabulous and I’ll be making your lemon cake soon. Can I borrow some Limonchello?

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