“It may seem counter-intuitive to bake a cake using an ingredient so firmly associated with savoury dishes, but olive oil cake is an everyday classic that feels distinctly Italian,” says restaurateur Russell Norman. “It’s a delicious alternative to butter-based cakes and has a rather grown-up flavour profile, but this will change dramatically depending on the type of olive oil that you use.

“It goes without saying that you should use the best quality olive oil you can get, but grassy, peppery oils don’t lend themselves very well to this cake. Look for an oil that has floral, herby or fruity notes instead.”

Russell Norman’s olive oil cake (Jenny Zarins/PA)
Russell Norman’s olive oil cake (Jenny Zarins/PA)
Russell Norman’s olive oil cake (Jenny Zarins/PA)
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Olive oil cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 722 Calories from Fat 396
% Daily Value*
Fat 44g68%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 48mg2%
Potassium 293mg8%
Carbohydrates 76g25%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 41g46%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 206IU4%
Vitamin C 16mg19%
Calcium 118mg12%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Olive oil cake

A perfect teatime treat
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 722kcal
Author: Russell Norman


  • 24cm cake tin
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Bowl
  • Wire rack


  • 320 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 1 orange juice and zest
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 350 g ‘00’ flour


  • Use a little of the olive oil to grease a 24cm cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas 4.
  • Put the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the olive oil, milk, lemon juice and orange juice. Add the two zests. In a separate bowl, mix the baking powder into the flour, and when combined, fold into the olive oil mixture until smooth.
  • Pour the cake mix into the greased tin and place in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the top feels springy, a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle, and the cake is golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack and serve warm, generous slices with a sweet wine, or enjoy cold the next day with coffee.24cm cake tin


Calories: 722kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 293mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 206IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 3mg

Venice: Four Seasons Of Home Cooking by Russell Norman, photography by Jenny Zarins, is published by Fig Tree.

Try Russell Norman’s ribollita.

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