Citrus, Almond and Thyme Olive Oil Cake with a Cranberry Drizzle

If you haven't tried an olive oil cake before, I can't stress enough how incredible they are! They're not savory and don't taste of olives [if you're at all worried about that!]. I can't quite put my finger on what makes them so delectable. One of my favorite local Atlanta spots, La Tavola, does a fantastic olive oil cake. If I remember correctly, they typically serve it with some sort fruit reduction, and the balance between the two is perfection.

Every Thanksgiving [and for a solid month after], I go through a slight obsession with everything cranberry, and incorporate it into all sorts of dishes, both savory and sweet. I’ll use any excuse to plate up this gorgeous glossy crimson sauce. The combination of tart cranberries with this sweet citrus cake works seamlessly.

Normally I don’t serve my desserts on rough hewn wooden boards like this, but I just may need to make this a standard serving option. It photographs beautifully this way! Atop the wood board, I styled the cake with a cutting of ruby coleus for a bit of color and a few sprigs of thyme.

Citrus, Almond and Thyme Olive Oil Cake

  • 1 blood orange, zested and juiced [if you can’t find blood oranges, half a regular orange will do!]
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 2 8 or 9” tart baking dish [I only had one, so I opted to make several smaller cakes alongside my one larger] Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and citrus juices. In a bowl beat the sugar and eggs on high until light and creamy, 4-5 minutes. Lower the speed [if you're using an electric mixer that is!] and drizzle in the olive oil slowly until fully incorporated.

Add half the dry mixture to the eggs, mix to combine on low. Then add the buttermilk mixture just to combine. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture until just combined. With a spatula, fold in the almonds. Add the batter to your prepared pans [I prefer this cake to bake the thin side, so I only fill my baking dish about halfway, but if you’d prefer a thicker cut of cake, go ahead and pour it 2/3 full. Bake for 40-45 minutes [if using smaller pans, be sure to check on them frequently since the time will adjust for smaller dishes] until golden brown.  Allow to cool on a rack.

Optional: Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

Whisk together everything until smooth and drizzle on the cake until completely covered. Gives the cake a bit more moisture, sweetness and a lemony kick.

Cranberry Drizzle

This isn’t so much a recipe, more of a hack on the cranberry sauce you may already have lying around.  I simply took my cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, added a bit of water to it and blended it in my Vitamix [or any other blender] until it was smooth.  The recipe I used this year was Tyler Florence’s Cranberry-Orange Sauce, but this should work with really any recipe!

Make this for your next holiday party [or a dinner any night of the week]. It's divine! Happy Friday! -Jo