Make Ahead

Pearl's Lemon Olive Oil Cake (with Self-rising Flour)

January 15, 2011
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 cake
Author Notes

This recipe came from my friend Pearl who spends her summers in Italy. She got the recipe from an Italian friend who got it from someone in New Zealand. Pearl makes great cakes & is very relaxed in her baking, whatever tin you have will do she says. I bake it in a lined 8 inch springform tin.She uses her local extra virgin olive oil. I use whatever EVOO I have at the time.It is the easiest cake to make and quite a large one so its great with vanilla ice cream for a dinner party dessert. —Jaynerly

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
  3. Mix in the yoghurt.
  4. Add the olive oil and lemon zest
  5. Fold in the flour.
  6. Pour mixture into cake tin.
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
  8. While cake is baking mix together the 1/4 cup of sugar & 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make a syrup.
  9. When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the lemon syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nina Lightfoot
    Nina Lightfoot
  • Jaynerly
  • Lydia Hays
    Lydia Hays
  • Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine
    Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine
  • lee kim
    lee kim

60 Reviews

Barb Y. June 17, 2022
Love love love this recipe! It has become my go-to. I have made it for many people from dinner parties to funerals and everyone raves about it. I've used plain yogurt, lemon yogurt, even peach yogurt - whatever I have on hand. It is so so easy and the lemon drizzle when it comes out of the oven makes it outrageously lemony and good. Yes, sometimes it does sink in the middle and I was originally worried about that but I have found that it doesn't make any difference. It just becomes more densely lemon-y in that part of the cake. I love citrus flavor (lemon and orange) so naturally I love this recipe. But even others comment on it. My 6 year old granddaughter told me the first time she had it, "I could eat this WHOLE cake by myself! Definitely a great recipe! I've also had some of my grands help me make it and they are always so proud of their "accomplishment". Try it!
Janet B. May 24, 2020
I baked this cake today with a disappointing result--a deep crater in the middle! It looked fine after 40 minutes, but was a bit jiggly and seemed to need more browning. After five more minutes, it had deflated badly. I'm sure it will taste all right, but I wanted it to look beautiful, too. I used a 9 inch Williams Sonoma Goldtouch pan, measuring all ingredients carefully.
Chimes August 26, 2018
I made this for a brunch party and it was a hit! I made 1/3 extra batter and had enough for a loaf pan and a 9" springform (I buttered both, no paper). I did 1 1/4 c sugar for all of it and that was plenty. Don't scrimp on the syrup, that's where the lemon flavor comes from! This would be absolutely dreamy with lavender or rosemary added.
Lorraine December 3, 2017
How to make this without self-rising flour?
Jaynerly December 3, 2017
I am sorry I couldn’t tell you as I have only ever used self raising flour
Barb Y. June 17, 2022
I've made it when I didn't have buttermilk. A quick google told me to sub 1 cup flour and 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt per cup of flour called for in the recipe. Results have still been delicious.
Barb Y. June 17, 2022
Oops - I didn't mean buttermilk. I meant when I didn't have self-rising flour! Not sure how to correct my post above.
Karen B. August 24, 2022
For each cup of self rising use 1 cup all purpose plus 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
Nina L. May 11, 2017
would buttermilk work here instead of yoghurt?
Jaynerly May 11, 2017
I am sorry but I just do not know as I have always used the yoghurt! Do let me know if you try the buttermilk.
Jaynerly April 28, 2017
Hi Lydia, I have never tried to cut the cake into layers so I am afraid I can not answer that. If you try it as a layer cake though let me know if it works out.
Lydia H. April 27, 2017
Would this cake work well as a layer cake?
Audrey H. November 6, 2016
Loved this recipe. We cut the sugar to 1 1/4 cups and served with fresh, unsweetened whipped cream and blueberry compote. Will definitely be making this again!
lee K. October 18, 2015
This cake is easy to make and I followed exactly the measurement required. So next time when I bake again, I know how much sugar to cut down. I love this olive oil cake and so moist. May be I can also substitute lemon with orange. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
drbabs January 19, 2015
Jane, this cake was wonderful. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!
[email protected] December 24, 2014
I've just made this and I'm waiting for it to cool. Had to use ginger syrup because that's what I had on hand and I'm short on lemons. Can't wait to try! Used a 9" springform and failed to line it so there's a little spillage in the oven, but 45 minutes appears to have been perfect. Smells divine.
Dana December 16, 2014
Thinking of making this recipe in smaller tins, to use as Christmas gifts... Has anyone tried doing this? What should I change the bake time to?
Brooke W. September 30, 2014
Loved this but had to make some adjustments based on what I had at hand. I couldn't find a decent yogurt in the store so I used 3/4 cup sour cream with a smidge of buttermilk. My zester is packed away in storage so I couldn't add zest - however I added about half of a lemon's juice instead. I reduced the sugar to 1 cup instead of 2 cups. I also reduced the syrup by half. It only took about 30 minutes to bake as well!
Dasha May 23, 2014
This was great! Based on the comments, used only 1.5-1.25 cups of sugar. Came out tall and beautiful in an 8 inch pan.
Jaynerly May 23, 2014
Brilliant, thanks for that feedback!
andrea March 12, 2014
I loved this cake. I used only 1 cup of sugar and greek youghurt and it was still sweet. remember because it has the sugar on the top also in the syrup. And I am from Wanaka in beautiful New Zealand
Jaynerly May 23, 2014
I love that this cake still works with changes! Less sugar is always good! I visited Wanaka in 2000, spent a month in New Zealand loved it there so much!
Lisanne February 24, 2014
This looks absolutely beautiful! I used Greek non-fat yogurt and cut sugar to 1 1/2 cups. Baked at 350 convection in a 10" spring form and it was done after 35 minutes. I am having a hard time waiting for it to cool as it smells so good! Just had a taste, Fab! This recipe is a keeper!!!
Jaynerly March 2, 2014
Thanks for the feedback, I am also going to cut the sugar next time I make this!
SabrinaLVH February 19, 2014
I'm not a baker and this was my first cake. It was so easy, moist, and delicious! I did make some changes as I didn't have everything on hand. I used honey vanilla Greek yogurt and baking soda+cream of tartar with my all-purpose flour since I didn't have self rising or baking powder. I also cut back on the sugar (1.5 c) and lemon juice (1/4 c). I also accidentally remembered the zest of 4 lemons, not 3. I poured into a 9" springform pan and baked for 45 minutes.

I just can't believe my first try was such a success! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe (and so easy! Way better than the labors of love I've eaten).
Jaynerly March 2, 2014
Great that you cut back the sugar, I've been meaning to do that myself to see how it turned out!
AnnieHynes January 21, 2014
I made this cake tonight and it is soooo moist and good. The lemon flavor is profound. I made it in an 8" cake tin oiled. I used Greek yogurt (low fat) with 2 1/2 lemon (s) zest and 1/2 a lime zest. Will make this ALOT!!! Loved!
Jaynerly March 2, 2014
I love that you loved it, thanks!
Nancy H. January 1, 2014
Hi - lovely texture and flavour - came out a bit on the dark side - but will definitely make again. Will be a 'go to' recipe because it tastes good and I don't have to remember to take butter out to soften before making :-) thanks for this recipe.
Jaynerly January 10, 2014
Thank so much for commenting!
Leslie G. December 27, 2013
I cannot stop making this cake! Thank you!
Jaynerly January 10, 2014
Yay, thank you!