Charlotte Druckman's Olive (Oil) Cake

May  9, 2021
40 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes one 9- or 10-inch cake
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

What You'll Need
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Charlotte Druckman's Olive (Oil) Cake
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Justine Lee
    Justine Lee
  • Biagio D'Angelo
    Biagio D'Angelo
  • Xavier
  • weekdaytreats
  • kumalavula
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

85 Reviews

Zee September 16, 2021
Thank you for this recipe which I have been wanting to try for a long time but put off bc I do not have a cast iron skillet.
I only have cast iron pots (cocottes by Le Creuset & Staub).
May I use a square 23cm ceramic stoneware Le Creuset baking dish?
Or a square regular baking tin?
Which one will be better to replace a cast iron skillet?
And will the baking instructions be then slightly different?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Justine L. July 18, 2021
If you have a major savory-sweet tooth like I do, then you will love this cake! You'll love how the buttery soft oil-cured olives work with the almond flour and sugar. It reminds me of like a biscotti in all of the best ways.
Wildyam February 15, 2021
Anyone made a gluten free version of this???
Justine L. July 18, 2021
I have tried making it with both standard AP flour and gluten free AP flour in another instance. The latter worked great! None of the cakey quality nor the fab taste were compromised!
Wildyam July 19, 2021
Not sure what "AP" is.... can you clarify? Thanks!
Justine L. July 19, 2021
sorry for that confusion! when I say AP, I mean all-purpose flour!
Wildyam July 19, 2021
Thank you!
Paula February 15, 2021
Ooh, I was very excited to make this cake, and it did not disappoint! A friend had given me a jar of oil-cured black olives in olive oil, so I drained off the oil and used that for the evoo called for in the recipe. There was a smattering of rosemary in the oil and pn the olives, which added a little savoury note. I did have some trouble getting the cake out of the pan, but I cobbled it back together. :o) Next time I will be a little more generous with the olive oil I use to grease the pan before putting the batter in. As Biagio said, it's "weird, strange"--but wonderful! (I rarely bake anymore, but I had to try this, and will be making it again!)
Biagio D. May 17, 2020
I forgot something! The video on the Food52 website with Charlotte and Kristen is wonderful !!! ;)
Biagio D. May 17, 2020
Hello everybody! I baked this wonderful cake when I visited my mom in Sicily for Christmas, last year, when there was still no Coronavirus in the world. Yesterday my mom remembered me by phone this dessert. Actually this dessert may be weird, strange, but my mother and me loved it. I assure you, it’s so yummy, so delicious. And then with the black olives of Sicily! What a pleasure! In these days of quarantine, these good memories strengthen family ties and all genuine affections. Thank you, Charlotte Druckman, you are a genius! All the best, Biagio
Carolina April 19, 2020
hi! I dont have a mixer : ( can i still attempt to make this cake? Tips?
Thank you!
Kristen M. April 20, 2020
Sure! Just whisk the wet ingredients really well.
Carolina April 20, 2020
I will! : ) Thank you so much!
Joyce C. February 10, 2020
I am making this cake for a dinner party this week. The picture looks like you served with whipped cream or some kind of toping. Would it be good with whipped cream or ice cream?
kim G. February 10, 2020
It would be good with either, especially if it's served warm. I've been known to slather butter on a warm slice. Judgement free zone????
Joyce C. February 10, 2020
Thank you. I would do butter too!!
Xavier October 26, 2019
I am not a fan of a Olives of any kind so I top this cake with slices of strawberries, chopped pecans and sliced almonds with the sugar. It’s a fave in our house and with friends. Thank you so much for this recipe. Ps...I’m certain there till come a time that a friend will want me to make this with the olives. Will keep you posted! Cheers***
Dana September 28, 2019
Hi! I’ve made this cake 3 times and absolutely love it! However, I find that I need to bake it ALOT longer than it states. I really haven’t timed it full out but I always have to add 10 more mins, check it, add 10 more mins, check it, etc. I think I’m up to 1hr 20mins at least. My oven is a convection oven if anyone has any advice for me. Shud I raise the temp? Thanks for any imput!
cary W. September 29, 2019
hmm. Are you preheating your skillet in the oven for a good amount of time? are you using the right size cast iron skillet? my number 8 lodge (Number on the bottom) is actually a 10". That can be kind of confusing. Have you calibrated your oven lately? That's all I can think of :/
Dana October 26, 2019
Thanks for helping but interestingly enough, the 4th time I made it, when I checked at 50 mins it was done😳. Used the same 10in skillet. I’m pretty sure its my oven, fairly new and its a dual convection/conventional and have had other issues. This recipe is so good, cant stop making it🥰
weekdaytreats September 22, 2019
I made this twice and enjoyed both of them!!
First try: I used green olives because my mum bought the wrong ones, they are ok but a bit salty for me. The cake had great flavour but it came out a little bit too sweet. I used ev olive oil here too as per the recipe. In conclusion, cake was good but sweet, olives were salty so the flavors were not balanced. But it was still super good with some yoghurt on top!
Second try: Used black olives - reallly nice compared to the green ones, used normal olive oil because i ran out of evoo, reduced the sugar by half, doubled the cake batter because the first try the cake came out thin (i think my skillet is wider), and added almond flakes. Conclusion: Greatttt super great, tasty!! Black olives matches so well with this cake. The cake was less sweet, just nice. And since I doubled the cake batter, it came out higher and I'm happy with it. Thanks for the great recipe!
Suzanne May 11, 2019
I wish there was something called smell-o-vision and I could include a link. My co-op smells amazing. I am making this cake for me - just because. It’s that kind of dessert. Don’t let the olives fool you - it’s a gorgeous sweet/savory play in you mouth that is not to be missed. Last time I made it - I froze a bunch of slices in ziplock bags. This freezes really great.

Everyone should try this recipe - you won’t regret it.
Freelancer77 April 30, 2019
Am I crazy, or is there no mention of the almond meal beyond the ingredients/measures list? As in, when do you add it? I added it with the AP flour, baking soda, etc., then second-guessed myself, and then went back to find whether I'd done so correctly. It's in the oven now so hopefully I didn't do anything terribly wrong. I have very high hopes for this beautiful cake!
Carla L. August 28, 2019
Hi Freelancer77, I think that comes under number 3; mix in the dry ingredients. At least,that is what I understood.
I haven't made mine yet,but it sounds like a really interesting cake!.How did your cake turn out?
Donna H. April 29, 2019
I am in love with this recipe! I followed the instructions exactly and it did not disappoint. It came out of the pan perfectly and had beautiful color. I think i baked it for 35 minutes - just watched near the end to make sure it did not get too dark. I used Bella Oil Cured Olives - beautiful, dry olives - available in Publix in the South Florida area. Don't be afraid to try the olive version of the cake - it is such a fantastic combination of sweet and salty (admittedly, I am a total olive freak)! This is a total winner.
SharynSowell April 29, 2019
I am celiac and made this with King Arthur gluten free flour and added 1/2 t. xanthan gum to ensure a light texture. What a perfect cake for the first picnic of the year! It was a complete success and got rave reviews. If you're gluten free, don't hesitate to try it.
kumalavula April 21, 2019
i did the marcona almond and cocoa nib version and amply oiled the cast iron before putting it in to bake. at 40 min, the center was not solid so i reduced the heat because the edges were already very brown and left it for another 10 minutes. i may have been too overzealous in wanting to get it out of the skillet after removing it from the oven. i waited about 20 min before flipping it and think i would have done better to wait a full 45 because i was putting puzzle pieces together on the cake bottom before doing the final flip. i did taste the batter left in the mixing bowl which was divine so i think this has potential for a variety of different flavors and proportions of almond meal to flour with different ingredients, both savory and sweet. it's a very interesting recipe and one that i'll try again.
Frances K. May 5, 2019
I think it's perfect the way it is. I too, am celiac and used King Arthur all purpose baking flour and have made it about 5 or 6 times now. It's just the best cake ever! And I didn't flip it over, it just came out of my CI pay with a large spatula in 1 piece.
Ruthie S. April 12, 2019
Do you mean Kalamata olives?
Dana April 13, 2019
No, not kalamata. Oil-cured black olives, a common brand is Cento. Also I’ve read in this thread that some olive bars in grocery stores like Whole Foods carry them. Or you can order from Amazon. Definetly worth making this. Delish
cary W. April 1, 2019
has anyone tried doubling this recipe?
cary W. March 21, 2019
Love this cake! Used half AP and half almond flour. Delicious! I'm Making it again for a dinner party tonight. I don't even try to flip it out of the iron skillet.… i serve it straight from there. Love that presentation, plus it's easier. Thank you for a great recipe!
portlandbaker February 22, 2019
I made the cake and it did stick to the bottom of my cast iron pan when I was turning it out. No biggie but I was just curious if you thought that lining the pan with a parchment round would compromise the texture of the bottom of the cake?
kim G. February 22, 2019
I put a healthy amount of oil on my cast iron before I poured in the batter. I'd try more oil first if only that parchment seems like a pain to work with on a skillet.
Xavier October 26, 2019
First few times I made this cake and center sticked to the bottom. My Partner suggested I use parchment next time - so I tried it this evening and cake flipped over oh so perfectly...and no big mess or fuss. I would recommend parchment if need be. Cheers***