Olive Oil Cake With Lime & Sumac

September 15, 2022
9 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 8-10
Author Notes

Sumac and lime give a bright boost to this simple olive oil cake. Deep fuchsia in color and with a tart profile, sumac is common in Middle Eastern cuisine, often used in savory dishes. It’s also a core ingredient of the popular herb and spice blend, za’atar. In this recipe, tangy sumac compliments lime zest to create a flavor that is both pleasantly sour and richly aromatic.

Olive oil and sour cream make this cake impossibly rich and moist, yet the crumb is fine and soft. The beautiful texture and deep flavor are complemented by a punchy, pink-hued glaze that gets its color by steeping ground sumac in hot water. Pro tip: use a high-quality sumac, which will give you boldest flavor and brightest color.

This beautiful and delicious cake is also wildly easy to make and the recipe is welcomely forgiving. All you need is a bowl, a whisk, and less than 15 minutes. I call for a 9-inch springform pan but if you don’t have one (or can’t find yours), an 8 or 10-cup bundt pan will also produce a beautiful cake–just reduce the baking time by about five minutes. While I find lime to be the perfect pairing for sumac, any citrus works well—lemon, orange, or even grapefruit will make a fine substitute.

As you prepare the cake batter, you’ll notice that the baking powder is added to the wet ingredients, not the dry ingredients. It might seem strange to some bakers, but this way, the leaveners get a chance to be more thoroughly incorporated when added at the creaming stage. Plus, it makes for an easier mixing process—no need for a separate bowl for dry ingredients.

Lightly sweet, perfectly moist, and topped with a tart pink glaze, this effortless cake is sure to become your new favorite. This cake stays moist and delicious for a few days after it’s baked. Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. —Zola Gregory

Test Kitchen Notes

This cake is super moist and not too sweet, thanks to the sweet yet acidic glaze. It rises well and has a fine crumb—fabulous! The sumac not only gives the glaze a beautiful pink hue, but adds flavor to the cake. It’s super easy for any level home baker to make. Pro tip: once the glaze has set, place plastic wrap directly on the surface, which will help the glaze’s surface stay dry with a soft bite. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • Finely grated zest from 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sumac & Lime Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, sumac, zest, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until blended. Add the eggs and whisk vigorously until the mixture is fully emulsified and thickened. Add the sour cream and whisk until homogeneous. Add the flour and mix until the batter is mostly smooth (a few small lumps are okay).
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring it to a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
  5. Make the glaze: Add the sumac to a small dish or ramekin. Pour 1 tablespoon of boiling water over it and steep for 1 minute, until the water turns bright pink.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sumac water with lime juice and powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. The glaze should be very thick yet spreadable. If it seems too runny, add a few extra tablespoons of powdered sugar; if it seems too dry, add an extra teaspoon of lime juice.
  7. Pour the glaze over the cake. Use a spatula to spread the glaze just to the edge—the glaze will slowly run down the sides. Set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Zola Gregory
    Zola Gregory
  • A.St
  • ashmardav
  • shooooo

10 Reviews

A.St December 15, 2022
Loved making this cake exactly following the recipe! Do you know if it can be altered to be gluten free?
Zola G. December 15, 2022
Try a cup for cup gluten free blend like King Arthur!
ashmardav November 30, 2022
So good. So easy. Made it exactly as directed and wouldn't change a thing.
shooooo November 26, 2022
This was really good and my friends really liked it. The cake wasn’t too sweet, so it went really well with the glaze.
Phyllis November 13, 2022
Absolutely fantastic. Make extra glaze, you won't regret it.
Mariam.b November 12, 2022
Amazing cake! Does it freeze well?
Zola G. November 12, 2022
Should freeze just fine! Wrap it tightly in plastic and then pop it in a freezer bag. You can freeze it glazed, but I prefer to glaze once defrosted.
dgelliott September 18, 2022
Unlike a lot of one-bowl recipes, this cake actually only takes one bowl-I had it in my oven in about ten minutes. It baked beautifully and was really moist & flavorful. I'm obsessed with the glaze-so tart/sweet and perfect for the cake.

I didn't have a springform pan, so I baked it in a standard round cake pan, & it came out perfectly!
Sault September 15, 2022
Amazing cake! Hits all the right notes - moist, not too sweet, but with all the flavor it still feels decadent.
Edore14 September 15, 2022
This cake is delicious! The olive oil plays well with the sumac and citrus. You can eat this cake for breakfast or dessert!