Orange Olive Oil Cake

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It’s not just the flavor of this orange olive oil cake that wins tasters over; it’s the texture, also. This cake is just as rich as its buttery peers, more moist, and doesn’t leave you with the same heavy feeling.

Along with the tart pucker of oranges, this cake is lightly spiced and is made with an additional sweet splash of vanilla.

Olive oil cake with oranges

I brought this cake to my book club and as they collectively tasted the cake, the group of outspoken women was left speechless for several moments. To say it was hit would be an understatement.


Olive Oil Cake

This recipe requires no exotic ingredients; you likely have everything in your pantry and refrigerator, with the exception of oranges. You’ll need two – a small seedless one to slice up and a larger one for zesting.

Note that the choice of olive oil can make a big difference in the flavor of the cake. Some olive oils taste highly acidic and citrusy, while others are more smooth and buttery. Be sure that you like the taste of your oil before using it in this recipe.

I like to add ground cardamom to my cake, but you can leave it off or swap that with your own spice blend.

How It’s Made

This orange cake works like an upside-down cake or upside-down cupcakes.

Start by melting butter and brown sugar at the bottom of your cake pan. I add them, uncooked, to the pan and then place the pan in the hot oven for five minutes or so until they melt.

Next, place thin orange slices at the bottom of your cake pan in that pool of melted butter and brown sugar. (You’ll invert everything when the cake is done so the oranges end up on top – more on that in a bit.) You won’t have to peel the oranges because their skins soften up and taste almost caramelized after the bake.

Placing sliced oranges in the pan

After placing orange slices, thoroughly grease the sides of your cake pan.

Mix up the cake batter and pour it on top of the orange slices. The cake doesn’t rise much, so the batter will come almost to the top of the pan.

Pouring batter into pan

After baking, remove the cake from the oven and wait about ten minutes before you invert it.

Tip: If you let the cake cool too long before inverting, the orange topping will harden at the bottom of the pan and will become impossible to remove. Only wait 10 minutes!

Slice of Olive Oil Cake

Expert Tips and FAQs

I normally make this cake in an 8″ round pan, but you can also make it as a loaf (I may like it even better that way!). Here’s a version I made in a loaf pan using blood oranges.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake
How long do I let the butter and brown sugar melt in the oven?

I only allow them to melt slightly and definitely remove the pan before they start boiling. You’ll end up with a sticky, burnt mess if you wait too long.

Should I invert the cake immediately after removing it from the oven?

No – like all upside-down cakes, you should let the cake cool for 10 minutes so the mixture at the bottom melds with the cake before inverting it. It should come out cleanly if you properly greased the sides of your pan.

How do I store this?

You can store this cake at room temperature for up to five days or refrigerate or freeze it if you can resist eating it all first!

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Slice of Olive Oil Cake
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4.82 from 11 votes

Orange Olive Oil Cake

This orange olive oil cake is just as rich as its buttery peers, more moist, and won't leave you with the same heavy feeling. I make mine lightly spiced and add vanilla along with freshly-sliced oranges.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 316kcal
Author Stefani


Orange Topping Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 4.5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small orange washed and thinly sliced

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom optional; leave off entirely, add an extra two teaspoons for a stronger cardamom flavor, or replace with other spices if you you prefer those flavors.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest zest of about one large orange


Orange Topping Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Place butter and brown sugar into the bottom of an 8" round cake pan and place into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the sugar and butter are melted. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the melted ingredients over the bottom.
  • Quickly arrange orange slices on the melted butter/sugar – a little overlap is fine.
  • Thoroughly grease the sides of the pan.

Cake Instructions

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and optionally cardamom.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs until thick and pale yellow.
  • Mix in milk and vanilla until just combined.
  • Add in olive oil a little bit at a time until just combined.
  • Mix in dry ingredients a little bit at a time until just combined.
  • Fold in orange zest.
  • Pour batter over oranges.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 40 minutes into the bake, check to see if the top is getting overly brown. If so, cover with foil for the remainder of the bake.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a board. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  • When cool, slice and serve.


I have two lovely bloggers to thank for this recipe. First, I was inspired to make an upside-down blood orange and cardamom cake after seeing the beautiful caramelized blood orange and cardamom cake by Louise on Cygnet Kitchen. The olive oil pound cake recipe that I used as the base of the cake was adapted from the citrus olive oil cake by Naomi of Baker’s Royale. Both bloggers are exceptionally talented and I encourage you to check out their recipes and stunning photography.


Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 123mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 202IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg
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