Ah, olive oil cakes. Moist, dense, satisfying olive oil cakes. In particular this blood orange olive oil cake recipe. Given how full of character they are—sweet, mellow, unctuous character— they’ve proven to be immensely popular here at Leite’s Culinaria. The fruity notes of olive oil tend to take particularly well to the lilt of citrus, evidenced by the number of readers who’ve told me they love our orange-olive oil cake. When I discovered our newest podcast victim, veteran cookbook author, food writer, and recipe developer Melissa Clark, had a blood orange olive oil cake in her book In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite, I had to have it on the site. Melissa generously adapted hers especially for you, our dear readers.–David Leite
LC Orange You Glad I Said…Note
We know what you’re about to ask. The answer is yep, you can use regular oranges in this recipe in place of the sweetly tart, scarlet-hued squat little specimens known as blood oranges that are, maddeningly, available only during winter. Cara Caras also work quite nicely. That said, if you can get your hands on blood oranges, do yourself a favor and try them in this cake.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
- 3 blood oranges
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Sour cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the baking pan
- Honey Blood Orange Compote for serving (recipe follows)
- Whipped Cream for serving, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176° C). Oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
- Grate the zest from 2 of the blood oranges and place it in a bowl. Dump in the sugar and, using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is evenly flecked with the zest and the smell is irresistible.
- Supreme two oranges: Lop off the bottom and top so a bit of the fruit is exposed and the orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Starting at the top, cut away the peel and white pith with the tip of your knife, following the curve of the fruit. Slice down one side of a section and the other, using your knife to wiggle the fruit out, releasing it from the membranes and letting it fall into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the sections and do the same to the second orange. Break up the segments with your fingers.
- Halve the remaining orange and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. You’ll have about 1/4 cup. Add enough sour cream to the juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the zested sugar and whisk well. Then plop in the eggs and whisk until incorporated.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil a little at a time. Fold in the orange segments. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
- Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and onto the wire rack, right-side up, and cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream and Honey-Blood Orange Compote, if desired.
Honey-Blood Orange CompoteSupreme 3 more blood oranges according to the directions above. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I had blood oranges and then found this cake recipe and it was love from the first read-through. “Dump in the sugar,” “lop off the bottom,” “wiggle the fruit out,” ”plop in the eggs”—the vocabulary set me up to enjoy the baking process AND the cake. The cake is dense and rich. The blood orange flecks sparkle like rubies. The cake can be sliced thin for dessert, for tea, even for breakfast. Though it’s rich, it’s not a very sweet cake, and that suits me perfectly. The recipe directions are clear and easy to follow. I baked my cake for a full hour because my knife did not come out quite clean at the 55-minute mark. It was hard to wait for it to cool to room temperature, but when I cut the first slice, it was beautiful and held together perfectly. I’d made a honey and blood orange compote while waiting for the cake to cool. When the cake was close to room temperature, I cut a thin slice off the end of the loaf. I placed the slice on a small plate and the compote in a bowl. I meant to place one serving of the compote on the plate with the slice of cake, but instead began to taste test my cake. The combination was irresistible—and I in no way heard this cake calling out for whipped cream. And as much as I love the cake, I at least equally loved the compote—I ate the entire batch of compote with my slice of cake. My blood oranges were little and I was concerned about the juice yield, but I got nearly the 1/4 cup expected from this orange. I had never supreme’d an orange, but I have found my new calling—I could do this for hours on end, especially with such an impressive end result. I could have broken up the orange segments even more with my fingers, to give more distribution of the fruit in the cake. And, yes, you could use another type of orange in this recipe, although nothing will ever be prettier than the blood orange. I was uncertain about the quality of the blood oranges I was purchasing and so I also purchased a bag of Cara Cara oranges, which were advertised as being pink on the inside. They were not truly pink, but they were a lovely shade that was not the bright orange of a traditional navel orange, and they were not too sweet. I ended up using the blood oranges, because they were fine, albeit, as previously mentioned, somewhat small. Looking at orange varieties led me to wonder about other citrus and/or a combination of other citrus, such as ruby red grapefruits or Meyer lemons, for example, both of which would distinguish themselves, I think, in this cake with a unique and not too sweet flavor as well as a unique color that would stand out against the yellow of the olive oil cake. While different from the blood orange, either a grapefruit or a lemon could still be quite beautiful and help to extend the window for making this winning cake from the all-too-short blood orange season to something closer to year round.
Originally published March 07, 2011