Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake


A heady mixture of olive oil and candied oranges flavors this moist, dense Sicilian dessert. The recipe is based on one in The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark (W. W. Norton, 2010).

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food


  • 2 whole medium oranges
  • 2 13 cups sugar, divided
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 12 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 14 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 cup fresh orange juice
  • 14 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Flakey Sea salt, for garnish


Step 1

Trim about 1⁄2" from the tops and bottoms of oranges; quarter oranges lengthwise. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add oranges. Bring water back to a boil; drain. Repeat boiling process twice more with fresh water. Put oranges, 1 cup sugar, and 4 cups water into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and orange rind can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Step 2

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" round cake pan with butter and dust with flour; line pan bottom with parchment paper cut to fit. Set pan aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Remove orange quarters from syrup, remove and discard any seeds, and put oranges into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until oranges form a chunky purée, 10 to 12 pulses. Add remaining sugar, reserved flour mixture, vanilla, and eggs and process until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add olive oil; process until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Step 3

In a small bowl, whisk orange juice and confectioners' sugar to make a thin glaze. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a cake stand or plate. Using a pastry brush, brush orange glaze over top and sides of cake; let cool completely. Garnish cake with salt.

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