Best Olive Oil Cake Recipe - How to Make Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Make Ahead

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

February 15, 2021
108 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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, where they also serve it at breakfast in muffin form, and they've been known to turn it into a birthday cake, layered with mascarpone buttercream. The recipe is pictured here with Michelle Polzine's Slow-Roasted Strawberries from Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore (Ten Speed Press, September 2018). —Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

Why is this the most beloved Genius dessert of all time? We'll tell you: It's irresistibly moist, rich and flavorful without being cloying, and exceptionally simple. Mix together some wet ingredients in one bowl, dry ingredients in another, tip the combined mixture into a cake pan, and boom. You've got a foolproof, good-no-matter-what cake. No butter softening or egg whipping or mixer wielding necessary. And because of all the moisture in the batter, there's not even the slightest chance of the cake overbaking and drying out.

On the olive oil: Since it's the primary flavor in the cake, use one that you'd be happy featuring in a salad dressing. A fruity type will complement the Grand Marnier and orange zest in the batter, while a peppery, grassy kind will create a wonderful savory contrast. It's really a matter of personal taste.

Of course, because our community loves this cake so much, they've found ways to make it their own: They've swapped out some of the all-purpose flour for almond meal and cornmeal; they've used infused olive oil for an even more pronounced punch of flavor; they've used other liqueurs in place of the Grand Marnier, to give the cake a slightly different personality; they've even added cocoa powder, espresso powder, and matcha powder (separately!) to the batter to give it a whole new groove. Mix-ins, too, aren't part of the original cake's deal, but chopped nuts, chocolate chunks or chips, or freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries would all be spectacular. Choose your own adventure—you can't go wrong any way. —Brinda Ayer
—The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Maialino's Olive Oil Cake
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes a 9-inch round cake
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups (285g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (305g) whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Grand Marnier
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cristine
    Cristine
  • Iris Marteja Manlapit
    Iris Marteja Manlapit
  • dilarababy
    dilarababy
  • DinghyB
    DinghyB
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

    523 Reviews

    DinghyB February 26, 2021
    So, I've had this recipe in my files like forever and I finally got around to making it today. O.M.G! This is a great recipe to work off of and I can't imagine that it's very easy to screw up. I took some tips from some of you previous reviewers, so thanks! I'm sure it made all the difference. As many advised I reduced the olive oil to 1 cup (think I could even go down to 3/4) and the sugar to 1 cup as well. I didn't have grand marnier so I used Cointeau instead and increased the orange zest to 2 Tablespoons. Finally, I switched out half of the flour for whole wheat. We ate it just plain and it is still one of the best cakes I've made. And it was super quick and easy! I'm sure it would be fantastic with berries and whipped cream or maybe a dollop of lemon curd. YUM!!!
     
    Cristine January 30, 2021
    Amazing recipe, I reduced the olive oil to one cup, and the sugar to 3/4 cup after reading other reviews. I used buttermilk, and also added fiori di sicilia for an extra citrus depth of flavor. One of the best cakes I have made. Drizzled with some carmel, delicious!
     
    Mary January 31, 2021
    I have been tempted to try this recipe again and you have convinced me. I'm going to cut the olive oil to 1 cup but will only cut the sugar by 1/4 cup as the lack of sugar will tend to dry the cake, I believe. Will post my results. Also because of teenagers in the house who love sweet I'm going to try with some raspberries and a bit of raspberry syrup.
     
    Amy January 23, 2021
    I made this for the first time today (obv very late to this party). I did not make any adjustments based on reviews because it was my first time, but it definitely needed more than an hour in the oven. I checked at 50 minutes and it still looked very liquidy. Having said that, I baked it in a 9 inch springform pan with parchment on the sides and bottom with cooking spray and foil wrapped over the bottom in case of leakage. It came out beautifully. I used a combination of olive oil from Costco and Orange flavored oil from the farmer's market. I think it bumped up the orange flavor a bit more. I also used 2T orange zest. Next time I will cut back on the sugar a little as others have done. Great cake.
     
    Iris M. January 19, 2021
    This was so moist and delicious....paired with homemade ginger ice cream. The salt (Morton's Coarse Kosher) did not dissolve enough so the bottom of the cake was saltier than the rest. Next time, I will add the salt to the wet ingredients to see if it makes a difference.
     
    Mary January 7, 2021
    Way too much olive oil. Very wet cake and surprisingly not much flavor.
     
    EC December 25, 2020
    I don't know why people say this recipe is great while I made it twice, it failed twice.

    The measurements I used were the one in grams, tablespoons and teaspoons were kept as is. I also used celsius to bake the cake.

    The first time I followed the recipe exactly. The cake turned out so oily and looked wet- totally unlike the picture where it looks cake-like (and dry but still moist!).

    The second time I used less oil (220g) and less sugar (300g). The cake still looked wet, but at least would not release oil when flattened. Still, it was wet and not moist cake-like.

    All in all, I really don't understand how people were able to make this recipe - I know I won't try it again.
     
    rk February 13, 2021
    Similar issues. Made the cake exactly as stated in the recipe, checked it with a cake tester and it appeared dry and ready at the one hour mark. After 30 minutes of cooling and unmolding, the bottom at the center was raw and liquified. Also tasted very salty at the bottom, and when I tasted the well baked portions, it was unremarkable. I'll stick with Nigella Lawson's Olive Oil Cake made with almond flour.
     
    mara December 24, 2020
    I have made this recipe about 6 times now and it has become a family favorite!
    I make the recipe as is and frost with mascarpone frosting. BEST CAKE EVER! Not too sweet but positively tasty and moist. Highly recommend!
     
    dilarababy December 11, 2020
    I made this with *some* adjustments and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!! I used less olive oil (1 C) and less sugar (1 C). I used a soy “buttermilk” (just put 1 1/4 tbsp lemon juice In a 2 cup measure, add the soy or other nut milk to it until it reaches the 1 1/4 C mark, stir and let sit 5
    - 10 min). This was so much richer than the recipe for cake I’ve been using!!!! Wow!!!!
     
    squiddie October 24, 2020
    delicious! made with grapefruit juice and cardamom. the 200g olive oil i used left the outer 1/3rd a bit drier than i would like, so i might go for 230g next time. also cut the sugar to 300g and that was a nice balance, though i'm tempted to cut more or experiemnt with sugar substitutes.
     
    Diane October 24, 2020
    I always reduce the amount of sugar in a cake recipe and did so in this one, as you did. I love that you used grapefruit juice.
     
    rozina26 November 22, 2020
    Sugar is hydrophilic, so reducing it by default will also make your cake less moist, not the lack of oil.
     
    T October 3, 2020
    This is delicious, but still quite too moist for my taste even after adjusting oil to 200. Sugar reduced to 150, and it’s just a hint of sweetness - might try 175 next time!
     
    rosecedar September 10, 2020
    I've made this twice with delicious results, but I do not get the "crackling crust." Any suggestions?
     
    JHK September 10, 2020
    I made this for a small family gathering because I thought it would transport well - it did. I made it the morning of the afternoon meal because I didn't see any reference to preparing in advance. I followed the recipe exactly. I used a 9-inch pan with 1-1/2" sides and filled up the pan short by 1/4" and discarded about 1/2cup batter. The cake did split on top and never achieved a crackling crust as the author noted. But it was moist and dense and oh my, all that orange was devine. I served the cake with slow-roasted strawberries by Michelle Polzine (Genius Recipes). Fabulous combination as far as I'm concerned. Everyone enjoyed it and I will make again.
     
    rosecedar September 8, 2020
    Has anyone made this in a 10-cup bundt pan? I love this cake but I would like an option for a prettier presentation. I worry about it sticking to a bundt pan since there is so much oil in the batter.
     
    Maggie E. October 31, 2020
    I’ve made in a 10 C bundt Pan for that exact same reason. Just make sure you grease and then flour the bundt Pan extremely well, tapping out any excess flour. It should come out beautifully. I hope this helps.
     
    Diane September 7, 2020
    I made this prior to the pandemic for a big gathering. It was so popular. One gentleman had several pieces and asked if he could take a piece home with him! The orange zest is where the magic begins. I will be making this again--and definitely for company. Oh, and I did have to cook it longer than the hour, but that's okay. And I also didn't think it needed any fruit topping - everyone loved the flavour and how moist it was.
     
    Diane September 7, 2020
    I made this prior to the pandemic for a big gathering. It was so popular. One gentleman had several pieces and asked if he could take a piece home with him! The orange zest is where the magic begins. I will be making this again -- and definitely for company. Oh, and I did have to cook it longer than the hour, but that's okay. And I also didn't think it needed any fruit topping -- everyone loved the flavour and how moist it was.
     
    Lesley P. September 6, 2020
    I have to admit, I was a little skeptical but also excited about making this cake. It turned out lovely. I think that I need to cook it a bit longer than 60 minutes. It doesn’t really need the strawberries!
     
    Kimberly M. September 6, 2020
    People, people! You don't have to spend millions on olive oil for this. Aldi's organic olive oil is certified real olive oil and makes this cake perfectly. If it's your first try, stick to the letter of the recipe, and you'll be golden!
     
    JLEE August 26, 2020
    Speak of simple... this is by far so easy it’s sinful! Full of deliciousness!!!
    The only ingredient I may change is not to use Morton’s Kosher Salt.. will use Diamond next time.
     
    Linda E. September 6, 2020
    I have made this cake several times using Morton Kosher Salt. I made it a few days ago and used our local grocery store chain Kosher salt - which is a more corse grind. While the cake was still delicious, the salt did not dissolve completely and made a noticeable difference. Going forward, I will make certain that a higher quality salt is used. That said - it was still delicious 😊
     
    Barbara A. August 17, 2020
    I made this cake yesterday for friends. It was LOVED. We all had seconds - even the 10 year old boys who might normally opt for something sweeter. I added a glaze, and used Cointreau instead of the Grand Marnier because it was what I had on hand. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it was a home run!!
     
    Barbara A. August 17, 2020
    I made this cake yesterday for friends. It was LOVED. We all had seconds - even the 10 year old boys who might normally opt for something sweeter. I added a glaze, and used Cointreau instead of the Grand Marnier because it was what I had on hand. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it was a home run!!