Olive Oil Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

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Olive oil cake. You may never have had it before, but it’s one of the best desserts you will ever have in your life. Yep. We said it.

Inspired by Tulie Bakery in Salt Lake City, this recipe is designed to be identical to the cake that we’ve purchased countless times from our favorite bakery in the Beehive State. This cake is beautifully moist, rich in flavor, and oh-so-perfect with its accompanying browned butter frosting. Never had olive oil cake before? You are in for a serious treat.

Can you use olive oil in cake?

You may have landed here because you’re wondering if olive oil can be used in any old cake. The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, BUT you ideally wouldn’t want to do that unless the recipe (such as this one) is specifically developed to use olive oil because it will drastically change both the flavor and composition of the cake. Better oil substitutes for a classic cake are a neutral oils such as canola oil or vegetable oil, or even grapeseed oil.

What is olive oil cake?

Olive oil cake is very similar to any other cake you’d consume except for the fat in this cake is olive oil– preferably a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Other fats you’ll see more traditionally in cakes are canola oil, vegetable oil, or even butter.

What does olive oil cake taste like?

Olive oil cake has a distinct flavor of . . . you guessed it– olive oil, which is why we recommend using a good-quality olive oil for this recipe. The olive oil is no doubt the most prominent flavor for this cake, but each olive oil cake will taste different based on the unique ingredients utilized. This particular cake calls for both orange and lemon zest, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, which gives it the perfect hint of citrus without overpowering the entire cake.

How To Make Olive Oil Cake

Making olive oil cake is very simple and (believe it or not) easier than making a traditional cake. The generous amount of olive oil in this recipe makes the cake less likely to dry up and is more likely to turn out perfectly every single time. You’ll combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer, pour them into a greased and parchment-lined 9-inch springform pan, and then bake for just over an hour.

This olive oil cake is served with an accompanying browned butter frosting, which is made by first browning the butter, allowing it to cool, and then creaming it with powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and a touch of milk. This recipe isn’t difficult by any means, the only challenge is being patient enough to complete each step in succession. You got this!

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Olive Oil Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

There is no cake like this in the world. This moist, beautiful olive oil cake is subtly sweet and complimented perfectly by a homemade browned butter frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword browned butter frosting, olive oil cake, tulie bakery
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • 9-inch springform pan

Ingredients

Olive Oil Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil*
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • zest of 1 medium or large orange
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Browned Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed

Instructions

Olive Oil Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan on the bottom and sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a 9-inch round of parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, combine the olive oil and eggs until smooth. Add the milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, and sugar and combine again until smooth.
  • Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the olive oil mixture all at once, and combine, still with your whisk attachment, until ingredients are just barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Remove bowl from stand mixer and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Place the springform pan directly on a cookie sheet, pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, and bake in the oven for 70-80 minutes. The cake will be done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. If the toothpick is wet in the center, continue baking for 5-minute increments until done. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting

  • Warm a medium-sized saucepan to medium heat and add butter. Once the butter has completely melted, allow it to brown, stirring frequently and gently scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula. The butter will foam and sizzle as brown specks appear on the bottom of the pan.** When the aroma of the pan is nutty and the bottom of the pan is a toasty-brown color remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Once the butter is completely cooled, beat the butter and sugar together; first on low speed, then increasing as the two ingredients become incorporated. Add the vanilla, salt, and milk, and continue to beat until smooth. If the frosting is still too thick, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved.

Assembly

  • Once the cake is completely cooled and the frosting is made, assemble your cake. Use a butter knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the springform pan if needed. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake and place on a cake stand.
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting using an icing spatula. Set in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to allow the base coat or "crumb coat" to set. Take out of the fridge and add remaining frosting, gently scraping the side of the cake with a bench scraper or cake scraper for a clean edge. Using the edge of your icing spatula, create a simple swirl on the top of the cake by gently pressing the spatula into the frosting while turning the cake in a circular motion, moving the spatula from the edge of the cake, slowly toward the center as the cake rotates. This is most easily done with a cake turntable but can be done on a cake stand too.

Notes

*When we mention using a good-quality extra virgin olive oil recipe, it doesn't mean you have to go out and buy the fanciest, most expensive bottle of olive oil that you can find, but please do use an oil that isn't expired and one that comes from a reputable, good brand. Some of our favorites that won't break the bank: California Olive Ranch (found in most grocery stores), Kirkland Signature Organic (Costco), or Trader Joe's Premium 100% Greek. 
**Don't be afraid to really develop some color when browning your butter. You don't want to completely burn all of your butter but it's totally okay to get a few darker flecks on the bottom of your saucepan. Think about the slightly charred, amazingly nostalgic flavor that comes from the edge of a campfire-roasted marshmallow? We want a little of that in our buttercream. 
***Thanks to the generous amount of olive oil, this cake is one that will still taste fantastic if you make it a day ahead. You can make the icing a day ahead as well just store in the refrigerator and allow plenty of time to come to room temperature before frosting. 

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  1. 5 stars
    This is a heavenly cake recipe. The olive oil cake does not disappoint and the browned butter frosting is to die for. Also a note for novice cake bakers like myself, my cake was really fluffy on top so I trimmed the top off for easier frosting after baking. Also when I was making my frosting it was initially grainy but after I let it still while the cake was cooling, I mixed it just one more time and it became a lot closer to the texture seen in the photos of this recipe. 5/5, wonderful recipe.

    Also I used the Trader Joe’s olive oil and just a hand mixer for anyone wondering.

  2. 5 stars
    This cake is delicious. It is so light and moist, but a decadent experience. The browned butter frosting is some of the best frosting I have had. The recipe is easy to follow and just turns out great. I made it with my mom and she loved the frosting because it reminded her of childhood and the frosting her mom used to make. We used a gluten free flour 1:1 and it worked great.

    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth! So glad that it was a hit for both you and your mom. And thanks for sharing he info on the GF flour I know that many of our readers cook with it as well. Have a great week!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was simply The Best Olive Oil Cake I have ever had! So easy to make and the lemon and orange zest tempered the olive oil perfectly. So delicious. This will be a family favorite for sure. I have had so many olive oil cakes and the cake is delicious on its own, but the brown butter frosting is a perfect compliment. Thanks Brooke. ♥️

  4. 5 stars
    This was so good – definitely adding to my list of regulars! I’m sure recipe creators just love this, but I made it with some modifications. I’m not a huge fan of olive oil, so I did half extra virgin and half extra light tasting. The extra virgin olive oil I found was infused with Meyer lemon and smelled amazing. I also added one teaspoon of vanilla and zested two lemons instead of one for some extra lemon flavor (still zested the orange as well). I have extra deep cake pans, so I skipped the springform and my pan did not overflow. The frosting was so good! I had extra so I’m going to try it on chocolate cake as well. This was so good. I may try it without the frosting next time, with whipped cream and berries. A great recipe!

  5. So easy, so delicious. If you want to impress people but not have to work very hard for it, then make this cake. It’s even better on the second day, I couldn’t stop cutting little slices off throughout the day.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this last night, the flavor and texture was divine! I followed the recipe exactly, I weighed the dry ingredients, used a 9 inch springform…it only was a little over an inch and a half tall, your pictures look taller than that. Should I have mixed longer? Im at sea level, does that make a difference? Thank you for another awesome recipe!!

    1. Hi Carly! Thanks so much for the kind message. You definitely don’t want to overmix the cake. Are your baking powder and baking soda new? Using baking powder/soda that is expired or even open for more than 6 months can impact baking recipes dramatically. I have made the cake at sea level so it should be okay at your altitude!

  7. 5 stars
    The cake was delicious and the browned butter was the perfect touch! I didn’t have a spring foam pan and was able to use a 9 inch cake pan and then I slid two extra strips of parchment paper down under the pan and was able to pull the cake out without difficulty.

  8. 5 stars
    This cake is heavenly! So moist and love the hint of citrus. The frosting goes so well and the brown butter bits are delicious.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. It is my new favorite and so easy! I used a normal 9 in pan with parchment paper in the bottom and it came out of the pan great. The brown butter frosting is out of this world. I will now be using it as a replacent for all vanilla buttercream. Great job Brooke! This is a staple for my family now!

  10. 5 stars
    This olive oil cake is amazing! I would even go as far to say it is the best cake I have ever had! I have made this recipe twice now and all I have shared with have loved it too. Highly recommend, thanks so much Brooke for another awesome recipe!