I’ve updated this recipe June 2019 to also include instructions for a springform pan version (as well as the original for a ring pan) and added a new photo of the round springform version.
This is an understated but glorious cake. No showy, overly saccharine buttercream and no layers. However, it’s still built to impress and makes an enchanting dessert when served with a wash of cream or a scoop of gelato.
This recipe was written in collaboration with Filippo Berio and features on their website.
I’ve read that olive oil cakes are a speciality of Liguria, as that region produces very fine light olive oil, with a delicate buttery taste.
A word of warning – only use a light olive oil: don’t use your extra virgin oil.
Look for the pale coloured olive oils in the supermarket. Luckily these are usually the cheaper oils and will say something like ‘for general purpose cooking and frying’. I quite often am without extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen, but I make sure I never run out of the light olive oil. For this one, I did use Filippo Berrio Light and Mild – there are plenty of choices for light olive oil.
- A variety of bowls, including two large (these may be your stand mixer bowls)
- An electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (or if you’ve got strong forearms, a balloon whisk)
- A savarin mould (or gugelhupf or Bundt) – OR – a 20cm springform cake tin
- Flexible spatula
- Pastry brush
- A small saucepan
- A wire cooling rack
- A little – or mini – hand whisk
- Plain flour, preferably Italian 00, but any plain (not strong bread though) – 200g
- Ground almonds – 100g
- Large eggs, – 3 (they will need to be separated into yolks and whites)
- Caster sugar – 205g, plus a little extra
- Light olive oil – 130ml
- Orange zest – from two oranges
- Orange juice – 360ml (this is about 4 large oranges. I suggest you use the juice from the two oranges that you have zested, then top up with store-bought smooth orange juice)
- Icing sugar – 140g
- Limoncello – about 1-and-a-bit tablespoons * (you can substitute 50:50 water and lemon juice if you require an alcohol-free cake)
- Marmalade – about half a typical (280g) jar
- Flaked almonds – a handful (about 30g)
- A little melted butter (about 8g) and a spoonful of flour for preparing the tin
- Salt – a large pinch
- Baking powder – 3/4 teaspoon
- For the RING version turn your oven on to 180ºC Fan / 200ºC conventional
- For the FULL ROUND version turn your oven on to 160ºC Fan / 180ºC conventional
- Melt the butter and using a pastry brush, brush the inside of your chosen cake tin – and if you are using a savarin/bundt mould make sure you brush the funnel too
- Tip in a spoonful of flour and rotate the mould, tapping it as you go to distribute the flour all over the buttered mould
- In one bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks
- In a second bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, until light and fluffy. Then, add in the zest, the olive oil and half of the orange juice and whisk in as well
- In another bowl or a jug, tip in the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder and briefly stir together
- Now gently use the whisk (no vigorous beating – just a gentle whisking motion) to combine a third of the flour mixture and the rest of the orange juice.
- Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until it is all combined
- Using a flexible spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the mixture (the first third loosens the mixture and helps to ensure not all the air is knocked out of the rest of the egg whites)
- Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in fully after each addition
- Once fully combined pour the mixture into the pan – it should fill it about 80% full (any extra left because your savarin mould is on the small side can be baked in cake cases or individual-sized silicon moulds)
- For the RING cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for about around 45 minutes
- For the ROUND cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for around 55 minutes
- Test it’s baked with a skewer – it should come out clean, but not bone dry as the olive oil in the cake keeps it moist
- Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack
Making the glaze, icing and decorating
- While the cake is cooling but is still slightly warm, make the marmalade glaze
- Put just under half a jar of marmalade in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water and bring to the boil
- Pour the marmalade all over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides
- Immediately sprinkle with the flaked almonds, so that they stick onto the marmalade
- You must leave the cake to completely cool before you add the water icing
- When the cake is finally cool, put the icing sugar in a bowl and add the Limoncello to it, but do this in stages. Humidity changes from one kitchen to another, from day to day in the same kitchen and also from one icing sugar packet to another. So, the amount of limoncello (or water and lemon juice if you require a non-alcoholic version) needed will vary also, especially as icing sugar takes so little liquid to dissolve
- The icing sugar needs to be just liquid, that it will take a second or two to start dripping off the tip of a spoon
- Hold a spoon full of the water icing about 4cm above the cake and ‘draw’ the icing across the cake in a zig zag motion with once hand, rotating the cake with the other so that you get the icing drizzled evenly all over the cake
- To decorate, either simply sprinkle over slivered almonds or decorate with chopped pistachios, slices of orange and edible flowers such as calendula and violas – both examples of the decoration are shown on this page
- Serve on its own or it’s delicious as a dessert cake with ice cream, fresh cream or creme fraiche