Olive Oil Cake with Candied Oranges

by FoodBabbles on June 18, 2011

When this month’s edition of Bon Appetit arrived on my doorstep I thumbed through it immediately, as I always do. Lo and behold, I found myself intrigued by an olive oil cake recipe. I’ve heard of olive oil cakes in the past. I’ve always wanted to try one however, as so many things do, that project was pushed to the side for one reason or another and then eventually forgotten until the next time I saw an olive oil cake once again at which point I would remember… Hey! I want to make one of those!

To be sure not to allow the thought to escape me once again, I soon set out to make Bon Appetit’s lovely olive oil cake with candied oranges. This cake was simply wonderful. The cake itself is much like the a dense pound cake however it’s so much more moist. (About a million times more moist!) The flavor of the olive oil is the star here but it’s nicely complimented by orange zest as well as accents of cardamom.

I can distinctly remember as a child, my Nan would make candied orange peels. I was always intrigued by the fact that she was able to make something not meant to be eaten into wonderful candy. As an adult, I’ve never made candied orange peels (*Note to self: Make candied orange peels!) but as if this simple cake with hints of orange wasn’t already perfection, it gets topped with wonderful orange slices that have been bathed in a syrup of sugar, orange blossom honey and green cardamom pods.

I’ve never been a big fan of cardamom. It’s not that I don’t care for it, I’ve just never cared to form an opinion one way or another. After making (and eating) this recipe, I’ve declared myself a very big fan! The aromatic smell of cardamom as you make the candied oranges is absolutely intoxicating. The sweet, spicy, complex smell took over my house and made me swoon. Let me just tell you, go ahead and cut more slices than you’ll need to top this moist olive oil cake because I assure you they won’t all make it onto the top. When these orange slices are done taking their sweet bath, you won’t be able to help yourself. You will inevitably eat some along the way.

So if you haven’t ever tried an olive oil cake, give this one a try. It’s simply wonderful.



Olive Oil Cake with Candied Oranges Bon Appetite Magazine (June 2011)

Candied Orange & Syrup

1 c. sugar

3/4 c. orange blossom honey

3 Tbsp green cardamom pods, crushed

1 small orange, thinly sliced


1/2 c. olive oil plus more for brushing

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. semolina flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 c. sugar, divided

3 large eggs, separated

2/3 c. plain whole-milk yogurt

1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

Chopped unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted (Not pictured. I didn’t use them on my cake since Maddy isn’t cleared for trying nuts yet and surely, she was going to want to try this wonderful concoction.) 

Candied Oranges and Syrup

– Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring sugar, honey, cardamom, and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.

– Add orange slices. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, turning orange slices occasionally, until tender and syrup is reduced to 3 1/4 cups, about 40 minutes. 

– Arrange orange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; remove cardamom pods and seeds. Strain syrup. 

DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover syrup and orange slices separately; chill. Return orange slices to room temperature and rewarm syrup slightly before using.


– Preheat oven to 350°. Brush a 9″ springform pan with oil.

– Whisk both flours and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

– Using an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup oil in a large bowl for 1 minute.

– Beat in yolks, then flour mixture.

– Beat in yogurt, zest, and vanilla.

– Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar until firm peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter just to blend in 2 additions.

– Transfer to prepared pan; smooth top.

– Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Pierce hot cake all over with a skewer. Slowly drizzle 3/4 cup warm syrup all over. When syrup is absorbed, slowly pour 3/4 cup more syrup over. 

– Reserve remaining syrup for serving. (I personally think that more syrup is not needed at serving given the amount of syrup initially poured over the cake and the very moist nature of this cake but that’s up to you.)

– Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Arrange candied orange slices over. Sprinkle pistachios over. Cut into wedges and serve drizzled with more syrup, if desired.

– Enjoy!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Medeja June 19, 2011 at 6:36 am

It looks very tempting. I can imagine that lovely taste of candied oranges 🙂


FoodBabbles June 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Oh they were so tasty! You should give it a try.


Olga @ MangoTomato June 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

stunning. I’m typically not a huge fan of cardamom and at first thought these were pistachios 😉 Love how the final result looks.


FoodBabbles June 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Thanks so much, Olga! It really was delicious and actually I was “if-y” on the cardamom myself but it tasted wonderful.


bakerbynature June 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I have been eyeing up this cake for a while now. It looks so gorgeous and I bet it tastes amazing.


Mary Squires June 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

What a gorgeous and mouth watering recipe.


Melissa {Persnickety Plates} July 10, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I just made my first olive oil cookies & they were awesome. Also, I just realized you’ve been taking gorgeous pics for years 🙂


Kate July 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Aww! Thank you so much Melissa! So sweet of you to say. I remember this post was one of the first pictures ever accepted to Food Gawker and TasteSpotting. I was over the moon. This recipe is also amazing! I love using olive oil in baked goods. I’ve never used it in cookies though. Gotta give that a try!


Kirsten December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

This time of year my thoughts turn to cardamom. Yum! Thanks for giving me the link to include in my upcoming Band Fruit Fundraiser Recipe Round Up! It will be published on 12/4/2013!


Shannon April 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

Looks amazing as most other comments have noted! I have a few questions. If you don’t have orange blossom honey on regular do you have any tips? If you don’t have a springform pan will it still work with a normal cake pan? Do you have any tips that would make it easier to remove? And if you only have cardamom seeds can you make it work? I usually toast and grind my own spices. And if you only have ap flour? Sorry that was a lot but hopefully it will make mine turn out at least half as good as yours?


Kate April 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Love all the questions 😉 and I hope you enjoy this cake. It’s truly something special.

1) If you don’t have orange blossom honey on hand, feel free to use whatever kind of honey you like. It will only change the flavor very slightly and it will still be wonderful. 2) I have never made this recipe in a regular cake pan. I don’t think this really can. The cake is meant to soak up the syrup while it’s still hot and I feel that once it has soaked up on the syrup, (which is meant to be done in the pan) it would likely fall apart when you tried to remove it. If you tried to remove the cake from the regular cake pan while still hot to soak up the syrup in another container of sorts, it would likely fall apart when you tried to remove it because it’s still hot so I think the springform pan is truly a necessary piece of equipment to make this cake. 3) The cardamom seeds will likely lend less flavor than the pods. If you do use the seeds, perhaps use a bit more than called for in the recipe and still be sure to crush them. It should work out fine though. 4) I wouldn’t use all AP flour. It will change the cake and I’m not sure how it will turn out. BUT, if you do use all AP flour please come back and tell me how it worked out! I’d be curious to hear.

Hope all this helps! Good luck!


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