Charlotte Druckman's Olive (Oil) Cake

February 5, 2019

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

This is a flawless, crisp-chewy, endlessly malleable olive oil cake blueprint you will want to pocket, even without the crazy-sounding addition of olives. But you should really suspend disbelief and give them a try. For more on why, see the original article here. Variations: 1) Omit the olives, increase the salt to a slightly heaped 1/4 teaspoon, fold 1/2 cup cacao nibs into the batter, and press 1/2-2/3 cup salted, roasted Marcona almonds into the top before baking. 2) Omit the olives, replace the 1/4 cup almond meal with toasted pistachio meal (or ground, toasted unsalted pistachios), add 2 tablespoons shiro miso to the wet ingredients, and press 3/4 cup salted, roasted pistachios into the top before baking. Adapted slightly from Charlotte Druckman for Brightland Olive Oil.

Genius Recipes

Makes: one 9- or 10-inch cake
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min


  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (25g) almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (the aluminum-free kind, if you can find it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (110g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5/8 cup (80g) pitted oil-cured black olives, roughly chopped
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet in it. (9-inch is fine if that's what you have—it will just take a little longer to bake.)
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer), beat the olive oil, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, to incorporate, scraping down the bowl, then add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  3. Decrease the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  4. Remove the hot cast-iron skillet from the oven and carefully brush the bottom and sides with olive oil. Scrape the batter into the skillet and smooth the top. Scatter the olives all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (25g). Remembering the pan and handle are hot (!), return it to the oven.
  5. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Wait a good 10 minutes before flipping the cake out of the skillet. Use a butter or dinner knife (not too sharp) to make sure the cake is loosened from the sides of the pan, and, if necessary, to coax the edges off the bottom of the pan for easy flipping. Have two plates ready, because you’ll need to flip it twice so it’s right (olive) side up.
  7. Depending on how well-seasoned your cast iron pan is, it's possible that the bottom will stick. If it's sticking all over, let it cool and firm up a bit more, then try to ease it out with a spatula, or just serve it from the pan. If one spot sticks and remains in the pan after you flip out, tuck the missing piece in like a puzzle and no one will notice! Let cake cool completely before serving.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|American|Olive|Olive Oil|Serves a Crowd|Bake|Quick and Easy|Cast Iron|Friendsgiving|Halloween|Hanukkah|Mother's Day

Reviews (42) Questions (1)

42 Reviews

Stephanie E. February 16, 2019
So addictive! I didn't have enough olives but wanted to try it right away so used about 1/2 cup olives and then added sliced Mission Figs and Marcona almonds. It was amazing- and the olives were the best part of the topping. My husband ate half the cake before dinner. I will definitely try it with all the olives but other toppings will be fun to test out also. The only way to stop myself from eating it all is to leave the house! Don't let the olives deter you- its kind of like first having sea salt on your chocolate or caramel. It works!<br />
chardrucks February 17, 2019
HOOOOORAY!!! love the fig/marcona addition. the marcona-cacao nib version is also bonkers (i used SALTED roasted marconas on that one, to mimic the olives, sorta).
gingerroot February 13, 2019
So so good!! I made it in a 12” cast iron pan and it only took 20-22 min. Shared it at work and everyone loved it. Will be making this again soon.
chardrucks February 17, 2019
: )
kim G. February 11, 2019
I can't stop eating this. I made it yesterday and now I only have one slice left. I followed the directions to a T and it was perfection. I can't wait to make this for friends and family.
chardrucks February 12, 2019
YAY!!!<br />
Heather G. February 10, 2019
shoot! I only have a 12 inch and 8 inch cast iron skillet...can I use either, or is there another vessel I can use to bake it?<br />
Kristen M. February 10, 2019
Hi Heather, check out Charlotte's (chardrucks) response to Sarah P. below—exact same question! 8" will be fine.
ifjuly February 9, 2019
Was wary this would be an expensive mistake--I try to be adventurous but I wasn't sure, maybe olives in sweets would be a bridge too far--but no, delicious! And has me thinking that Heidi Swanson cookie recipe mentioned below's probably good, as it reminded me a bit of a giant cookie cake, only with salty-sweet olive instead of chocolate chips or say, dried (conventional) fruit. Easy too, once you've amassed the ingredients. Love the texture doing it in the skillet and using brown sugar and some but not all almond flour gives it. Thank you for this post!
Sarah P. February 6, 2019
I only have 8" and 12" cast iron pans. Can you suggest a substitute?
chardrucks February 6, 2019
Sarah, I think you can do it in the 8-inch; it'll just be thicker and you will probably need to give it a little more time. I think it's worth doing it a cast-iron skillet, for the crust. If you're feeling unsure about that, then a regular cake pan will do. The crust just won't be as crispy, and it will also take a bit longer to bake.
Rhianna M. February 6, 2019
1. For those with allergies, could I replace the almond meal with additional flour?<br />2. Could it be baked in a regular cake pan?
chardrucks February 7, 2019
1. Yes you should be able to replace the almond meal with additional flour; you could also try using toasted oat flour, or kamut flour, or even coconut flour. If you do, I'd go with x-large eggs, instead of large. Both oat and kamut flour are more absorbent of moisture than almond meal, and coconut is SUPER absorbent. <br /><br />2. See my response to Sarah's question above.
Frances K. February 9, 2019
Rhianna, I made this yesterday to take to a friends house for dinner. Instead of the all purpose flour, I used King Arthur's gluten free blend with the almond meal. OMG it was crazy good!!!! I left them a piece for today and am eating the rest for breakfast right now. As a rule, I don't care for sweets but this was perfect. I baked it in a 9" cast iron pan. Thank you Charlotte for coming up with this wonderful combination of flavors.<br />
chardrucks February 9, 2019
: )
Lynn February 9, 2019
Ok Frances, you answered part of my question.... but which gluten free flour mix from King Arthur did you use?
Rebecca February 10, 2019
I have made a similar cake that used corn meal rather than almond meal.
Frances K. February 10, 2019
All purpose I guess. I threw away the bag and put it in a canister. Also, I don't use that many olives on the top, about a half a cup is enough for a 9" pan. Just now made another cake and actually I used 1/3 of a 7 oz jar of Cento olives. It's just right.<br />
Karen A. February 6, 2019
3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour<br />1/4 cup (25g) almond meal<br /><br />Does the almond meal go in with the flour? If not, when?
Mark M. February 6, 2019
I sifted it with the flour and baking powder. Worked wonders for me!
chardrucks February 7, 2019
portlandbaker February 6, 2019
Hi! Would you consider adding in a weight measurement for the olives? It would be so much easier to weigh than to meaure out 5/8 cup. Thanks! Really looking forward to baking this.
Frances K. February 9, 2019
I don't see how it really matters how many olives you sprinkle over the top of the batter. Don't take this so seriously people. Have fun and enjoy. <br />
Kristen M. February 10, 2019
Hi portlandbaker, sure thing—added now (as well as an olive oil weight) but the olives can really be to taste.
portlandbaker February 11, 2019
Mark M. February 6, 2019
OMGoodness!! Just made this following the directions to a “T”.<br /><br />Sweet<br />Savory<br />Crispy <br />Chewy <br />Freaking wonderful.<br /><br />My 4yo loves it as well.
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
That was fast, Mark—woo-hoo!
Mark M. February 6, 2019
It’s almost all gone. My little one and I ate some. We shared it with our contractors and the liked it and only left one (tiny) piece.
Amar K. February 6, 2019
This sounds really good, I can't wait to try it! Anyone have any idea where to get the olives though....
Dana February 6, 2019
I can get them locally at Harris Teeter and you can also get from Amazon.
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
Here in NYC, they're at lots of grocery stores (Whole Foods, Fairway, as well as gourmet/specialty grocery stores), usually in the cheese section or olive bar if they have it, but I've also seen them in jars in the pickle/olives aisle occasionally. Maya M. mentioned some others on the article page, too:
Frances K. February 9, 2019
I found Cento brand in Food Lion. Going to look on Amazon for some pitted ones now, pitting them was too time consuming.
Lp February 6, 2019
Please update recipe with baking time. Then I’ll try it! Thank you.
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
Hi Lp, thank you for the heads up! A couple steps went missing when I uploaded the recipe last night, but they're back now. My apologies.
Lynn February 6, 2019
Would love to try this, but would appreciate even a ballpark number for the baking time.
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
Hi Lynn—please see my note to Lp above. The recipe is all set now.
Lynn February 6, 2019
Thank you!
Dana February 6, 2019
In step 2, it fails to mention when you add the bowl of dry ingredients in to be mixed. Some of us are novice bakers. Thanks
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
Hi Dana—please see my note to Lp above. The recipe is all set now.
Dana February 6, 2019
Thanks Kristen! So excited to try this.
Donna H. February 6, 2019
You might like to try adding the cooking time to the body of the recipe - I am going to assume that it needs to be baked for 30 minutes prior to flipping it out of the pan!
Kristen M. February 6, 2019
Hi Donna—please see my note to Lp above. The recipe is all set now.