Olive oil has a miraculous effect on food, adding a richness, and bringing out hidden flavors. In this recipe, olive oil is combined with orange and poppyseeds, bringing you an aromatic cake with a slightly squidgy interior that melts in your mouth. Olive oil is richer than butter and has a more pronounced flavor.

The combination of orange and olive oil gives this cake a Mediterranean vibe, perfect for spring (but really, any time of year). I like to pair this cake with macerated strawberries: the sweet, syrupy fruit adds a fresh contrast to the subtle flavors of the cake, a welcome and delicious addition.—Vedika Luthra

Orange Poppyseed Cake FAQs

What kind of olive oil should you use in this cake?

You want a fruity olive oil, rather than a peppery or grassy oil, which can be way too strong. This is one of my favorite fruity olive oils. I use it in my Portuguese Orange-Olive Oil Cake (below). It’s not overpowering and has a lovely fruity taste.
Portuguese Orange Olive-Oil Cake : David Leite

How do you store olive oil cakes?

One thing about olive oil cakes is that they get better with age. The flavors marry and the texture gets even silkier. Store the cake on a covered cake stand or in a tightly sealed container. Properly covered, it will last up to 4 days.

☞ Like olive oil cakes? Try these:

A slice of orange, olive oil, and poppyseed cake with sliced strawberries on the side on a white plate

Orange, Olive Oil, and Poppyseed Cake

4.84 / 6 votes
The combination of orange and olive oil gives this cake a Mediterranean vibe, perfect for spring (but really, any time of year). I like to pair this cake with macerated strawberries: the sweet, syrupy fruit adds a fresh contrast to the subtle flavors of the cake, a welcome and delicious addition.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories645 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours


For the cake

  • Butter or oil, for the pan
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, preferably organic
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 large eggs

For the macerated strawberries

  • 3 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • Whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving (optional)


Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), and coat a 9-inch (23-cm) cake pan with oil or butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the orange zest and granulated sugar. Whisk in the flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a separate large bowl, combine the olive oil, milk, orange juice, and eggs. Don’t worry if the mixture separates slightly.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients then pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk together just until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, bake until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs, 60 to 70 minutes. Let the cake cool completely.
  • To loosen the cake, run a knife around the edges. Gently remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment, then place on a serving plate.

Make the macerated strawberries

  • While the cake is cooling, in a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and orange juice. Stir, then cover the bowl and let sit until the strawberries release some of their juices, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve the cake, topped with strawberries immediately, and with whipped cream or crème fraîche, if desired.
52 Weeks, 52 Sweets

Adapted From

52 Weeks, 52 Sweets

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Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 645 kcalCarbohydrates: 86 gProtein: 8 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 21 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 71 mgSodium: 549 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 56 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Vedika Luthra. Photo © 2021 Vedika Luthra. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Anything orange-flavored with balsamic-drenched strawberries is an immediate hook for me. Plus, this orange, olive oil, and poppyseed cake recipe is a cinch to make and requires no mixer. It has a most lovely moist crumb, a delectable orange flavor and the poppy seeds lend a delightful little crunch to the overall goodness.

The macerated balsamic-orange strawberries were a big hit and complemented the delicate citrusy flavor of the cake. A good quality balsamic sprinkled over strawberries is a real boon here. I used a syrupy Italian Balsamic from Modena Italy, but there are also some wonderful domestic versions that won’t break the bank.

I’ll definitely add this cake to my dessert arsenal and even though it reminds me of the aftermath of a summer dinner, it’s a most welcome change from holiday pies and rich buttercream-laden cakes.

This poppy seed cake was loved by all who ate it, ages 11 to 51. We shared this at a dinner party with our neighbors and it was a perfect ending to a grilled beef tenderloin feast. I never had a chance to capture its deliciousness in a photo–it was gone in a flash. 

The olive oil was unexpected in a sweet cake but definitely makes the cake melt in your mouth. The macerated strawberries were a perfect match to the orange and olive oil flavors, and the whipped cream is a definite must to top off this cake for all seasons.

I am always drawn to an olive oil cake–they are rich yet light in texture, perfectly moist, and easy to put together. This orange, olive oil, and poppyseed cake was all that and more! With the addition of both orange zest and juice, this cake had a wonderful aroma and citrusy undertone in its taste which was lovely paired with the flavor of the fruity olive oil. 

It baked very well and at 1 hour exactly, was ready to come out of the oven with its perfectly browned crust and super moist crumb.  Perfectly sweet, the only changes I would suggest would be to cut the salt back to 1 teaspoon total.

Serving the cake with the macerated strawberries was a revelation – I can also see macerated sweet cherries being nice here. I did not serve mine with cream or crème fraîche, although I’m sure a dollop of either would gild the lily quite nicely.

I cannot laud this poppyseed cake enough, nor could my family! I first tested a plain piece with no toppings and no family. It was anything but plain. In fact, I could have stopped there with a rating of ten and suddenly wished I did not have to share the cake with anyone. The flavors were incredible.

The combination and amounts used of orange, olive oil, and poppy seeds were spot on, which allowed each ingredient to singularly shine and not overpower each other. Texture-wise, the cake was incredibly smooth and moist with a slight crunch from the poppy seeds. Perfect! 

My second piece, eaten with the macerated strawberries, a dollop of whipped cream, and the family, resulted in a collective “Wow.” It’s hard but not impossible to beat Perfect!  P.S. Do NOT skip the balsamic vinegar! It just brought this amazing cake to the next level.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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