This orange-olive oil cake was, without a doubt, the hardest recipe to develop in The New Portuguese Table. Cindi Kruth, one of my recipe testers, and I made 13 versions of it until I knew it was as good as the recipe I got at Papas, the tiny restaurant up the hill from my apartment in Lisbon. The problem was—and I have no idea if this was intentional (you know how some cooks can be)—but they gave me a recipe for a classic chiffon cake. Yet their mighty bolo de laranja was dense and rich, and just one slice could satisfy even my appetite. Friend and Portuguese food scholar Janet Boileau was smitten with the orange-olive oil cake and also went to work trying to figure it out. In the end, it took a call to the wonderful Lisbon chef Fausto Airioldi to help me get a handle on the dessert. He agreed with me that this was no stinking chiffon cake. It was too full of the bold flavors of Portugal. So, that’s when Cindi and I started from scratch, literally. Several weeks later, we came up with this. And if you had a chance to stop by one of my book signings, you would have had a sample. It’s what I always serve, and people always ask for, when I’m fending off those huge lines of three and four fans.–David Leite
LC Atenção Note
Make sure to use a light-colored Bundt pan. A dark one will turn out a cake that sticks and is unpleasantly brown. The pan David uses is the Nordic Ware’s Anniversary 15-cup Bundt Pan. And since this orange-olive oil cake only gets better with age, don’t even think about taking a bite until the day after you make it, or even the day after that.
For years David has been trying to find the perfect fruity olive oil for this cake and he’s finally found it. Zoe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (As always, there’s no affiliation with or compensation for the products we recommend.)
Orange-Olive Oil Cake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 12 to 14
- Nonstick baking spray, with flour
- 4 to 5 large navel oranges
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
- 1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with baking spray and set aside.
- 2. Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1 1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Set aside.
- 3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- 4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.
- 5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.
- 6. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Oct 11, 2010
Here’s the hit of a recent charity bake sale! Easy and a real keeper — the note advising not to cut into the cake on the first day was my first clue how perfect it would be for a bake sale or other need to plan ahead.
I did cut into it on the first day, and it was very moist, but not at all in a negative way. It was equally wonderful and perfectly moist on the second day, and I cannot report further, as it was completely devoured on day two — or sold, in the case of the cakes that went to the bake sale. Customers loved the cake and specifically inquired about it. If I make this for a public event again, I’ll attach little tags with a link to the recipe on this site! It’s easy to make and quietly delicious.
I noted the 12-cup Bundt pan specified and divided the recipe into a 9-cup Bundt pan, four mini-Bundts, and a 3-cup “garden bug” Bundt pan that makes five different varieties, including a dragonfly and a ladybug. The bugs were not only charming but tasty. They and the mini-Bundts, attractive and impressive, were both stand-outs at the bake sale for their visual appeal and their taste.
The first time I made the cakes, I poured all the batter into these two pans; on my second test batch, I didn’t fill the molds quite as full and made a second set of the bugs in the 3-cup pan. I had no trouble reducing the baking time down for these smaller cakes, and, in fact, the quick bake time for them added to the appeal of this cake. And on top of the delicious flavor and charming Bundt shapes, it’s a lovely yellow color, sunny, upbeat and attractive.
A couple of notes: it took the full five oranges to make the required amount of juice. I used a handheld mixer with successful results. After the 15-minute cooling period, the cakes turned out perfectly from the light-colored Bundt pans I used.
Oct 11, 2010
This cake is an epiphany. It is literally the most fantastic, wondrous creation to ever grace my kitchen. The smell while it is baking tantalizes, the taste when it’s removed from the oven mesmerizes. Thank you, David, thank you. I cannot wait to make this for everyone I know and let the worshiping begin! I made the recipe exactly as written. Has anyone tried this with another citrus?
Orange-Olive Oil Cake Recipe © 2009 David Leite. Photo © 2009 Nuno Correia. All rights reserved.