Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

By • February 11, 2014 • 199 Comments

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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 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 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.

Topics: Cake

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Comments (199) Questions (10)


2 days ago Ceecee

I love this cake so much I try to find the time to make it once a month. I make it as a layer with the following ingredient (which is from another favorite cake of mine, Pineapple Curd & Cream Cheese Frosting with Coconut Topping). Pineapple Coconut Cake can also be found on food52. I use the original Maialino's Olive Oil Cake receipt dividing the batter into two cakes then use the pineapple filling and the cream cheese frosting finishing off with coconut topping. Its delicious!


13 days ago Anna

I followed the recipe exactly, except for the cooking time - I altered the suggested 60 minutes to 75 minutes. The cake was moist, dense, and delicious. It freezes very well.


about 1 month ago kimlikestoeat







2 months ago Ticketytwo

You might have gone wrong substituting marmalade for grand marnier. I always use extra orange zest. A bit of mixed essence, a pinch of cardamom powder and extra grand marnier. It makes the cake more flavorful.


2 months ago Geni

This was a big disappointment. In the cake's defense, it was baking as we sat down to a family dinner so it really didn't have time to cool sufficiently before I cut it for desert. Out first impression was a resounding "dense and oily"! Eventually, we got to the flavor which was actually quite good. Today, I tried it again and, again, found it extremely dense and oily with the light orange flavor being it's only redeeming quality. I used a 9" springform pan and subbed orange marmalade for the Grand Marmalade because I was out. I have another olive oil cake recipe that is better so won't make this again.


2 months ago WinterGal

I agree, marmalade is not a good substitute for grand marnier. also, if the cake is oily and your measurements were correct, you might not have baked it long enough. some become frightened of the gorgeous browning while baking and pull out too soon. sorry this didn't work for you.


2 months ago PreyeUboh

I think the problem is from the marmalade instead of Marnier (orange liquor ) the recipe calls for. I made this cake more than ten times and every time it turned out great. I reduced the sugar On some occassions, and once or twice when I was out of orange liquor I subbed with orange juice.


about 1 month ago sophie

I agree that this olive oil cake is not the best. I don't think it's the marmalade, as it doesn't add any more liquid than GM would. It's just a dense and oily cake relative to other olive oil cake recipes out there, period. The recipe I use and love uses less oil yet still is very moist with a fragrant olive oil flavor.


4 days ago Lew

I'm with Sophie on this one; there's too much oil and too much sugar (GM adds sugar, too!) . Dorie Greenspan has a lovely compact olive oil + yogurt loaf cake recipe that only uses 1/2 cup of oil, but is extremely moist and satisfying.


2 months ago big-andy

I just made this cake for a dinner party this evening and it tastes like nothing.


3 months ago Jodi magee

any way to make this without dairy? can i make it with almond milk for instance? thanks


3 months ago dillybug

Sends me back to my days in Europe when my host family use to make something similar to this. Absolutely divine.


3 months ago petitbleu

I may have already commented on this recipe, but it is amazing. I have made it several times now, and everyone always loves it. I even get rave reviews from people who are self-described dessert haters. I always use yogurt instead of milk because we don't often have milk on hand, but we always have yogurt. I could also imagine using ricotta. This cake is absolutely perfect, though. It goes with pretty much any fruit in season, so I serve it with either fresh, unadulterated fruit or a compote or jam and maybe a little barely sweetened whipped cream. I don't often feel like "genius" really applies to a lot of recipes, but it does here. A million thanks to the chef or pastry chef who created this recipe!


2 months ago Jules Galette

do you just use plain yogurt? and how much?


3 months ago MaryFrancesCooks

Isn't olive oil cake just FANTASTIC!? I made an orange glazed one a while back with Harmonian olive oil that was a big hit ( However as a New Yorker I'll have to do my duty and check out this Maialino place, because this cake looks wonderful!


4 months ago Murielle Banackissa

This cake was absolutely divine! I will be remaking it in the future; everyone loved it! Thank you for sharing!


4 months ago Wen

If I made this as muffins, how long would it need to bake?


4 months ago Ami

I baked this as miniature muffins (about 1.5 inches diameter on the bottom, 2 inches diameter top, and maybe 2 inches high), and it took about 12 minutes. I baked for 8 minutes at 350F at first, and then checked every minute after that. The shape was more even when I baked them at 300F. When the temperature was at 350F, they rose too fast at first and became kind of tilted pointy top. When the temperature was lower, the top rose evenly in a dome shape. They were as delicious as the big cake!


4 months ago Elaine Ho

Literally perfect.


5 months ago radhika

Is there a way I can add a picture in the comments section? This came out so beautiful and like the article quoted, this was so fragile and the moistest cake EVER! Thanks for the lovely recipe!


5 months ago Lynn McKenzie

I just made it and it's fantastic! Delicious! I even put a orange zest glaze on one of the cakes.


5 months ago radhika

Thank you Ann. Can't wait to try this!


5 months ago Ann

I think you should be fine with the OJ.


5 months ago radhika

Can I subsitute Grand Marnier with orange juice? Not many are comfortable consuming alcohol in a cake, at least my family members. Let me know your thoughts how it will turn out if I do so. Thanks much!


5 months ago daisybrain

This has been a very versatile recipe. My son likes it with lemon rather than orange flavoring and I have substituted 1 cup of the flour for cocoa powder with terrific results.


5 months ago Rachael Lahren

Ann, this very issue occurs with me in my oven when I bake the cake. However, I once cooked the cake in my mother's oven with the convention feature on and the results were much better. I am not sure if this is what contributed to the difference but it is the only change that I am aware of. Good luck.


5 months ago Ann

Thanks Rachael. It's comforting to know I'm not alone. I wish I had a convection oven to try it on. The real mystery, though, is why after all the other attempts were so successful, this one wasn't. The hidden mysteries of baking, I guess. Ugh!!!!


5 months ago Ann

I have made this cake successfully many times with perfect results. Yesterday's version, however, went wrong somewhere and I'm not sure where. The cake mounded up in the middle once in the oven and then cracked across the entire surface, only to later sink in this crack area as it cooled. Ben after an hour and ten minutes the cake was still a bit under cooked in the center but I removed it from the oven so the rest of the cake wouldn't over bake. When I cut into the cake, there was about a 1/4" area at the bottom of the cake all around that looked oily, almost as if the oil had settled out. Does anyone know what happened?


5 months ago WinterGal

if your measurements and ingredients were spot on, might be your oven. I had similar problems baking fail proof cakes and pies for thanksgiving... turned out my oven was failing. it died completely just before Christmas. if you have an oven thermometer, give it a try. good luck!


5 months ago Ann

I wondered about the oven temp. My oven isn't on the verge of quitting, I hope, but it isn't the most reliable in terms of temperature. I'm also wondering if I had previously baked the cake on a higher/lower shelf last time, but don't remember doing so.


5 months ago WinterGal

Ann I don't think the rack height should matter, as I have moved mine higher and lower in the last to make room for extra items in the oven. just pay close attention to what you're baking I there. my TG turkey was fine as were other times that didn't need to rise with chemistry magic. it was two different cakes I baked that really clued me in. they were under baked in the center and didn't rise as much, yet pulled away from pan edges. the tops were crisp. my chocolate cake was even spotted! the flavors were even different. ugh, always something!


5 months ago Caro GF

this happened to me too! exactly the same experience. it was so sad, and not edible. so strange because I am an experienced baker and sounds like you are too.


4 months ago Elle Lawrence

What is not specified in this recipe is the importance that you mix the eggs into the olive oil then add the other wet ingredients. Eggs are an emulsifier which will keep the oil from separating from the batter. You have an oily batter because you didn't emulsify you oil properly. Hope that helps!


4 months ago Ann

What a useful comment. Thanks so much. Now can you do anything about my cracked sunken top????


about 1 month ago Rhonda

Very helpful... Thank you


21 days ago Belemi

Thanks a lot for the tip. I plan on baking the cake today for an early Mother's Day celebration.