Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

By • February 11, 2014 • 135 Comments

Author Notes: Olive oil cake at its best has a crackling crust and an aromatic oil-rich middle, which, if it held any more moisture, would be pudding. Pulling this off should be easy -- there aren't even egg whites to whip and fold, or butter to cream -- but it isn't always. This one, however, is perfect, and will ruin you for all others. Recipe from Maialino Restaurant in New York City. Maialino also serves it at breakfast in muffin form, and they've been known to turn it into a birthday cake, layered with mascarpone buttercream.Genius Recipes

Makes a 9-inch round cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.
Jump to Comments (135)

Comments (135) Questions (9)


2 days ago DLP

Can you substitute almond milk for the whole milk in this recipe?


4 days ago KtMcB

I made this before and forgot what I substituted Grand Manier. Can I ust double OJ?


4 days ago WinterGal

don't see why not! I think I had read that someone else had doubled the oj and the result was just as good!


about 1 month ago phyllisc

This is so easy and delicious! Next time I'd cut the sugar. I can see it being a basic fall-back with many possible variations -- limoncello and lemon zest and juice, amaretto, sliced almonds and a little extract. I used a 9" springform, baked for the entire hour, and it was perfect. I weighed the flour rather than measuring. The cake gets golden quickly, but I agree that it needs that hour. I love the easy cleanup - 1 bowl, 1 whisk, measuring spoons.


about 1 month ago Rachael Lahren

We LOVED this cake. Because of it's density it is well suited for tea and coffee-style parties rather than after dinner dessert. I prefer to use table salt to kosher salt in dessert recipies as kosher has a bite-back salt taste. I served each slice with a dollop of marscapone frosting. Anticipating this, I cut the sugar in the recipe to 1 1/2 cups. The cake was just as delightful. I found 1 hour was not long enough to bake the cake, so I cover it lightly with foil, shiny side down, and continued baking for 15 more minutes (in 5 minute intervals) . Enjoy!


about 1 month ago Maureen Jones

I am going to make again using Cup 4 Cup flour along with the almond flour and I will use a citrus flavored olive oil, either in whole or part. I did not have Grand Marnier but Triple Sec worked just fine.


about 1 month ago Christine

I followed the recipe exactly and it is delicious! I love that it is very simple and uses pantry ingredients. I agree with others that the flavor is better the day after baking. Next time I will use 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier and skip the OJ.


about 1 month ago daisybrain

You had some left the following day? Mine never last that long.


2 months ago Maureen Jones

Thanks for the tip. I will look. I made it with almond flour and added more when I saw how thin the batter was. Another reader said her batter was thin and lumpy even with AP flour. I made it and it is difficult to cut and I would cut the oil back even more. I cut it to 1 cup and if I chill it, I think I can cut and serve.


2 months ago James A. Morris

Cup4Cup is a wonderful gluten free wheatflour substitute created by Thomas Keller and crew. It might be what you need for the gluten free version. Available at William's Sonoma


2 months ago daisybrain

I have been enjoying this recipe and have made several cakes. I've been wondering though, what would happen if I added cocoa powder? Today I made two and added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tsp. vanilla and a little extra milk to one of them and the results were scrumptious. I eliminated all of the orange. The other cake was the standard recipe. It's amazing to whip up a cake like this with so little effort and time. 15 min. (Tops) at the counter, 1 hr in the oven and 1/2 hour on the cooling rack It's a dream. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.


2 months ago Maureen Jones

Help!! Someone talker earlier about substituting almond flour for AP to make it gluten free. I just subbed cup for cup and the batter is way too loose. Any ideas without using AP flour to thicken


2 months ago Ami

The batter for this cake is very loose, like nothing else I have ever seen. It's normal. You know the ribbon that forms with regular cake for which you whip eggs, etc.? That doesn't happen with this cake. The batter for this cake is loose and lumpy. Without having seen your batter, I can't be certain. But try baking as it is? Good luck!


2 months ago Lee Atendido

Awesome moisture and perfect crumb for my taste. I added an orange cream cheese frosting for a little extra indulgence - it was so perfect with a good hand pour cup of coffee.


2 months ago chichichicken

Great recipe and very delicious! I made a little tweaks to fit to my taste. I put only 1 cup of sugar instead of 1 3/4 cup and it was right sweetness for me; I increased orange juice to 1/2 cup because I didn't have Grand Marnier. I think that's the reason it has a strange sour and bitter taste at the end. It still tastes really really good though! I'd also note that I found it a little too oily so I will probably reduce it to 1 cup.


3 months ago Shari

I was surprised this turned out as well as it did. Delicious!


3 months ago Patricia Calvert

I've made this cake at least 6 times, mostly at tasting events to showcase olive oil that we produce. Everyone has raved about it; how moist it is, great flavor, "this is made with olive oil?" speechless. Greatest olive oil cake recipe I use, and I am constantly looking for new recipes to highlight our oil. Thanks for posting.


3 months ago SM

My hubby loved this cake. So easy to make. Great texture. I used 1 cup of olive oil instead. Also added chopped pistachio nuts and tsp of vanilla to make flavor more intense. Will definitely make it again. Wonder if I can use pineapple juice next time for a different flavor.


3 months ago WinterGal

love this recipe! not too oily or too sweet as recipe is written. it truly needs to bake the full time and turn that lovely brown that is crisp--a wonderful texture. not liking orange, I substituted lemon juice, lemon zest and lemoncello... wow! I also made some mascarpone buttercream icing for a little on the side. great recommendation! thank you for this recipe!


3 months ago JohnL

Cat Cora has a recipe called Olive Oil Cake: Ladi Tourta that's playing to rave reviews on the Food Network site. I've made it twice. You might like it because it leans more to a lemon flavor with several tsps of zest, although it also contains orange liqueur and orange juice, lemon is what stands out when you taste the cake. It also has 4 ounces of finely chopped almonds in the batter. It is a wonderful cake but I think I slightly prefer this olive oil cake on Food52 because I really like the orange flavor. I may try Cora's recipe again and use orange zest instead of lemon, and then it may become my favorite olive oil cake (the almonds are a surprisingly subtle/pleasing ingredient). But the two cakes are otherwise very very similar. Cora's bakes in a 10-inch pan.


3 months ago Laurence Tillett

This is absolutely THE easiest cake ever...and grown men have swooned at my table after the first bite. I make an orange syrup to drizzle over it...1 cup OJ, zest from 1 orange and 5 TBSP sugar....boil gently until reduced to syrupy consistency. This will also freeze well (both cake and separate containers of course).


3 months ago TSmith

I made this cake last night with the recipe as written, and it is absolutely delicious. Wonderfully moist; we didn't find it too oily at all. I never dreamed the orange and olive oil would go so well together. Such a simple, yet elegant cake.


3 months ago Ami

I just made this, and it's so delicious. I love how simple and understated this cake is - no exotic ingredients, no challenging techniques, no crazy frosting . . . It's just simply good. I can taste the sponge that is so moist with olive oil.

I reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups since I normally think most recipes are too sweet. The cake is just sweet enough - I might reduce to 1 1/4 next time. I didn't have grand manier or cointreau, so I used burbon with extra orange zest. The cake turned out great! This recipe is a keeper!


3 months ago Swiss Meringue

I made this cake for Easter, followed all the instructions precisely, and it was a huge hit - completely devoured. Beloved by all, young and old. I will definitely make it again, though I might experiment and cut the oil down to 1 cup and try Meyer lemons next time, or grapefruit! For such an elegant cake, it is extremely quick and easy to make. The cake will be quite golden brown at 45 mins, but it needs the full hour to set properly.