Incredibly Moist and Tender Cake Made with Olive Oil
With a Crunchy, Sugary and Creamy Lemon Mascarpone Cream Filling
This Olive Oil Cake is exceptionally moist and flavorful, with a sugary crust and deliciously fine textured crumb that’s not overly sweet. On it's own, it's one of my all-time favorite cakes, but split in half and filled with a thick layer of Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream puts it in a whole other category of YUM.
Olive Oil Cake is one of the easiest and most delicious cakes you can make
I've made this cake for more people and occasions than any other cake in my repertoire. It's a recipe I come back to over and over again for two reasons:
- It's a true crowd pleaser. I've never served this cake to anyone who hasn't eaten every last bite on their plate.
- It's one of the easiest cakes to make AND stays moist and fresh for days.
Preparing the pan and whipping up the batter will take you about 10 minutes tops, and you'll be pulling the cake from the oven in another 40.
Sprinkling the top with sugar before baking gives it a crackly sweet crust that's all the adornment it needs. Just slice and serve. Moist, tender cake in under an hour. 🙌
But, friends. If you want to take this cake to a whole other level, you'll whip up some Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream and somehow manage to summon enough self control to not eat it ALL straight from the bowl so that you have enough left to spread in between layers of cake.
I'm going to tell you right now, this is easier said than done. Notice I advise you to not eat ALL the pastry cream before it makes it into the cake. You're most definitely going to eat some. Just accept it and try to not eat it all.
Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream is Also Super Easy to Make
The Lemon Mascarpone Cream filling for this cake is simply my FAVORITE pastry cream recipe with some mascarpone and lemon extract (or lemon oil) beaten into it. It's rich and creamy, silky smooth, and like the olive oil cake itself, is not overly sweet. Even better, the recipe is super simple and comes out perfect every time.
Mascarpone is the star ingredient of many Italian desserts. It's like the Italian version of English clotted cream or French crème fraîche and tastes rich and creamy with a mild tang.
Mascarpone is also similar to cream cheese, especially in consistency. This is good because depending on where you live, mascarpone can be difficult to find. If you want to bake this cake and discover that your local market doesn't stock mascarpone, you can substitute cream cheese.
The key to using cream cheese instead of mascarpone is to use half as much. The flavor of cream cheese is much stronger than mascarpone. If you use too much, it becomes the star ingredient, making the filling taste something like cheesecake. Not bad, per se, but not what we're going for here.
Can This Olive Oil Cake Be Made In Advance?
Absolutely. One of the best things about oil-based cakes, like my favorite Carrot Cake and Spice Cake recipes, is that they stay moist and fresh for days. This is because oil remains liquid at cooler temperatures, whereas butter solidifies, making cakes firmer.
Using oil instead of butter in cakes is also beneficial when the cake needs to be refrigerated. Butter based cakes will get quite firm when refrigerated - again, a result of butter's intrinsic characteristic to firm up when cold. Oil based cakes don't have this problem. Their texture is soft and delicious at room temperature AND straight out of the fridge.
Olive Oil Cake can be prepared up to 3 or 4 days in advance
Simply wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and store it at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. After it's been filled with pastry cream, the cake should be refrigerated, where it will keep for at least another 3 days.
The Lemon Mascarpone Cream can also be Prepared in Advance
Store the Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Although, as I mentioned earlier, it is very, very difficult to know it's in your refrigerator and not eat it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
For the Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream:
- 1 tsp (3.12g) unflavored gelatin
- 2 tsp cold water
- 1 cup (236ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp (1.5g) salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp (15g) cornstarch
- 8 oz mascarpone - OR 4 oz cream cheese (*see note)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract - OR ½ tsp lemon oil (*see note)
For the Olive Oil Cake:
- 1 ¾ cups (218g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (4g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (6g) salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature (*See note for how to bring eggs and dairy to room temperature quickly.)
- 1 ¼ cup (251g) granulated sugar plus another ¼ cup (50g) sprinkling on the top of the cake
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ¾ cup (177ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup (177ml) whole milk, at room temperature
Make the Lemon Mascarpone Pastry Cream:
- Add the gelatin and water to a very small dish and stir to combine. There should be just enough water to moisten the gelatin, creating a thick paste. Set aside.
- Add milk, sugar, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch to a medium size heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk or rubber spatula, just until the mixture begins to boil. At this point, it should have thickened to the point that the whisk or spatula leaves tracks as you stir. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds longer. Scrape into a bowl.
- Break the gelatin into small pieces, dropping them into the hot cream. Whisk until the gelatin is completely incorporated, about 20 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap over the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Add the chilled pastry cream to the bowl of an electric mixer along with the mascarpone and vanilla and lemon extract. Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream with the mascarpone on medium-high speed until completely combined and smooth. Taste and add more lemon extract if you want a stronger lemon flavor. The mascarpone cream is now ready to use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the cream for up to 2 days.
Make the Olive Oil Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) and grease a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable shorting. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom and lightly grease the top of the parchment paper.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for about 60 seconds, until frothy. With the mixer running, sprinkle in 1 ¼ cups (251g) sugar and the lemon zest. Continue to beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow, about 4-5 minutes.
- With the mixer running, slowly pour the olive oil into the batter in a thin, steady stream. Continue to beat until the olive oil is completely incorporated. (*See note)
- Turn off the mixer and add half the flour. Beat on low just until the flour is mostly incorporated into the batter. Add the milk and continue to mix on low speed just until the milk is incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and beat on low just until incorporated. Stir with a rubber spatula to make sure there isn’t any unmixed flour along the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup (50g) sugar over the top of the batter in an even layer. Bake in the center of your oven for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without evidence of raw batter.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes. Gently run a knife or flat spatula around the sides of the pan, then release the side of the pan and remove. Set the cake, still reseting on the bottom of the pan, on a wire rack and let cool completely.
Fill and Assemble the Cake:
- Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two layers, placing the top layer on a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Spread the lemon mascarpone pastry cream over the bottom layer of cake, smoothing it out into an even layer. Carefully lift the top portion of cake and place over the mascarpone cream.
This cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving, wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
- Lemon extract is relativly inexpensive and generally pretty easy to find. However, it can have a sharp, slightly bitter taste. Lemon oil is a good alternative and even if your local market doesn't carry it, it can be purchased online. See links below for the brands I recomend. Lemon oil is more concentrated than lemon extract, so use it sparingly. Start with just ½ teaspoon, then increase drop by drop if you like, until you get the desired amount of lemon flavor.
- It's important to use room temperature eggs and milk to make this cake because it's difficult to incorporate enough air into the batter when beating cold eggs. In addition, cold ingredients don't combine as well as when they are at room temperature. Here's how to bring eggs and dariy to room temperature quickly.
- It's important to pour the olive oil into the batter in a thin, steady stream with the mixer running as you pour. This creates an emulsion - the same process you would use to create a homogenouse salad dressing. If you add the olive oil too quickly, it will separate out from the batter.
- If you can't find mascarpone, you can use cream cheese instead - but use half as much. Cream cheese has a much stronger flavor and can take over the other flavors in the cake if you use too much.
- Unfilled Olive Oil cake does not need to be refrigerated and will keep well at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. Once filled with pastry cream, the cake should be refrigerated and will keep well for at least 48 hours.
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Simply Organic Orange Flavor Certified Organic, 2-Ounce
Boyajian Pure Lemon Oil, 3.4 Fluid Ounce
Lemon Extract 4 oz., 4 Ounce
Wilton Angled Spatula, 9"
KitchenAid 6 Qt. Professional Lift Stand Mixer
Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, 9 Inch
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 3-Quart Saucepan with Cover
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 587Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 649mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 11g
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