Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Mascarpone and Macerated Berries is an elegant cake you can serve any time of year. Olive oil and lemon juice keep it incredibly moist and tender for days.
Olive oil is the perfect addition to a cake recipe, creating a light crumb with a distinctive but not overpowering olive oil taste. Add a crunchy layer of sugar on top and lots of lemon flavor and you've got yourself the perfect cake for dessert or brunch.
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Why you’ll love this lemon cake recipe
- Fresh lemons give the cake plenty of bright citrus flavor
- The recipe uses simple ingredients that are easy to find in your local supermarket
- Whipped mascarpone and sweetened berries make the perfect toppings
- Leftovers stay super moist for days thanks to lemon juice and olive oil
- It’s versatile! Serve this olive oil cake recipe for parties, holidays, with coffee or brunch
Is butter or oil better for baking?
Cakes usually list butter as one of their first ingredients. That's because cakes, like most other baked goods, need fat to give it structure. Butter also adds richness, wonderful flavor, and moisture to cakes.
You may have seen or made cake recipes that call for vegetable oil. This makes it super easy to assemble cake batter as there's no creaming of butter and sugar needed. And there’s no need to wait for butter to come to room temperature before beginning.
One of the other advantages to using oil in cakes instead of butter is that the baked cake will hold onto its moisture for longer.
Butter-based cakes tend to dry out the next day. Oil-based cakes, on the other hand, remain moist for up to 3 days after baking.
If there happens to be any leftover cake, this is the best part!
What does lemon olive oil cake taste like?
So, we know that oil can play a role in cake baking. But olive oil?! It's got a distinct flavor and is typically used in savory dishes.
In this cake, however, the olive oil adds a layer of flavor you didn't know you were missing before!
The right kind of olive oil (a high-quality, extra-virgin variety) brings a fruity flavor to the cake. And, believe it or not, the flavor of the olive oil can be detected, which is what we want. However, it's definitely not overpowering.
And if you've learned anything about me from following along, you've learned at the very least that I am a huge lover of all things lemon!
Typically, olive oil cakes include some lemon to enrich the olive oil flavor, but not to provide lemon flavor, if that makes sense.
I, of course, want both! So, lots of lemon flavor is added here to make the olive oil flavor come through but also to have a lemony layer as well. That's a win all around if you ask me!
Ingredients & substitutions
- Fresh berries: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are all great options
- Granulated white sugar
- Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice, not bottled lemon juice or lemon extract
- Lemon zest: My favorite tool for zesting lemon is a microplane
- All purpose white flour
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Large eggs: Remove the eggs from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. This helps them better incorporate into the batter.
- Olive oil: Use high-quality oil for a more intense flavor
- Milk: Whole milk gives the cake and whipped mascarpone a richer texture
- Heavy cream
- Mascarpone cheese: This is similar to cream cheese or ricotta cheese, but is creamier and sweeter
How to make olive oil lemon cake
For the macerated berries, stir the fresh berries and the lemon juice together in a small bowl. Let rest while you make the cake.
Heat the oven to 350ºF. You’ll want to make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. Prepare a springform 9-inch cake pan by greasing the sides and bottom.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt.
Whip the eggs for about 1 minute using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add 1 ¼ cups sugar and the lemon zest. Whip on high speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be a pale yellow and have a fluffy texture.
With the mixer running on medium speed slowly pour in the olive oil. Mix for about 1 minute, until the oil is incorporated.
Pour in half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the lemon juice and milk. Mix for about 30 seconds. Then add the rest of the flour mixture and whisk for 1 minute until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the leftover 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the cake.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. When done, the cake will be golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Then remove the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely.
For the whipped mascarpone, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip with the whisk attachment on low speed. Gradually increase speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Slice the cake and serve topped with mascarpone and berries.
- Use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for this cake. It'll help intensify the flavor of the cake so the olive oil is noticeable, but not too overpowering. You'll be surprised by the subtle fruity flavor produced by the olive oil plus the lemon.
- This recipe requires a springform pan. If yours tends to leak, wrap the outside in foil and press it tightly to the pan. Or, place a baking sheet on the oven floor, on the lower oven rack, or underneath the springform to catch any drips
- The macerated berries and whipped mascarpone are totally optional. But, totally worthwhile. And, to be honest, they don't require much effort, besides buying the ingredients if you don't already have them. These additions are really nice finishers and elevate the best olive oil lemon cake recipe to new levels
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To keep olive oil lemon cake moist, avoid overmixing and overbaking. As soon as the cake is cool, wrap it in plastic wrap for storage. Thanks to the lemon juice and olive oil, leftovers should stay tender for several days.
Whipped mascarpone and macerated berries are delicious on top of this cake. Other options include a dusting of powdered sugar, whipped cream, yogurt or lemon glaze.
Yes! Once the cake is completely cooled, first wrap it in plastic wrap. Store it in a resealable plastic freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
FOR ALL MY FAVORITE BAKING TOOLS INCLUDING THOSE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE, CHECK OUT MY BAKING RESOURCES PAGE!
Love lemon desserts as much as I do? Check out these other fabulous lemon treats!
If you're really wanting a fresh lemon flavor in a pound cake, be sure to check out my Italian Lemon Pound Cake recipe. It can be described as a bright cake, perfect texture, lemony and delicious, ready to share on a spring day.
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For the Macerated Berries (optional)
- 1 cup berries such as blackberries, strawberries, and/or blueberries, washed and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest grated
- ¾ cup olive oil good quality
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice juice of one large lemon
- ¾ cup milk
Whipped Mascarpone (optional)
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese stirred until smooth
- 1 cup heavy cream
Prepare the Macerated Berries (optional):
- Combine berries with sugar and lemon juice. Let stand for 30-60 minutes while you make the cake
Prepare the Cake:
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip eggs on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Add 1¼ cups sugar and lemon zest, increase speed to high, and whip until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to medium and, with mixer running, slowly pour in olive oil. Mix until oil is fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Add half of flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Add lemon juice and milk and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan; sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over entire surface.
- Bake until cake is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove side of pan and let cake cool completely, about 1 ½ hours.
Prepare Whipped Mascarpone (optional):
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whip, starting on low speed and gradually increasing speed, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute
- To serve, slice cake and top with a dollop of whipped mascarpone and a spoonful of macerated berries.
- Leftover cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to three days. Store whipped mascarpone and berries separately in tightly sealed containers in the fridge for up to 3 days
- Cake recipe adapted from CooksIllustrated.com
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