Fluffy, rich and somehow still light, this Vegan Olive Oil Cake is absolutely delicious and easy to make. Serve this cake with a cup of coffee or tea or a glass of oat milk and enjoy a cake with a tender crumb, subtle olive oil flavor, and a hint of lemon.
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Hey Internet, I felt it was time to publish another cake recipe--and this vegan olive oil cake is my new favorite thing! I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you today.
I don’t consider myself a baker, but that hasn’t stopped me from making delicious albeit uncomplex cakes such as vegan tres leches, vegan coconut cake, vegan hummingbird cake, vegan coffee and walnut cake, and my vegan pineapple upside down cake, to name a few.
As far as cakes go, this one’s pretty easy, very moist (sorry), and just really good. Unassuming enough to whip up on a weekend and enjoy slices throughout the week with your favorite beverage like coffee, tea, or oat milk…
But this dairy-free olive oil cake (it’s egg-free too) also feels-fancy and decadent enough to serve guests with a dusting of powdered sugar and decorated with some lemon slices or raspberries and a little vegan whipped cream or even aquafaba whipped cream.
Is It Difficult to Make?
All you have to do is mix up the wet ingredients in your large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients on top, combine, and transfer to your baking pan and bake!
When the cake is done and cooled, you’re welcome to frost it if you like, though I think vegan buttercream frosting is a little overwhelming for the delicate flavor of the vegan olive oil cake.
So I like to dust this beauty with some organic powdered sugar and decorate it with a few slices of lemon. When serving, I throw on a little dollop of vegan whipped cream and a few tart raspberries for the perfect flavor balance.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer: While you can use any egg substitute in this recipe (think ground flaxseed + water, chia seeds + water, JustEgg liquid vegan egg product, etc.), I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer to keep this cake light in color. But I also have been using this egg replacer for 5 years and love it.
- Organic cane sugar: I say organic because, in the United States (I hear this is not the case in Canada or the UK), some cane sugars are filtered through animal bone char, making them not vegan, and brands aren’t required to disclose this information. Coconut sugar will also work; just keep in mind your cake will be a little darker in color.
- Lemon zest: Using a microplane or zester, zest your lemon BEFORE cutting it and squeezing it for the juice.
- Lemon juice: This reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise. And it also tastes really good in the cake--it’s very light. Your cake won’t be tart!
- Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil: Olive oil is the star of the show with vegan olive oil cake (duh) and makes a moist and delicious cake. Don’t skimp on quality oil for this recipe! Use an oil you know you like. If you want a strong flavor, use extra virgin olive oil. But if you want a more subtle or neutral flavor, use regular olive oil.
- Plain vegan yogurt: This reduces the amount of oil we have to use but ALSO makes the cake lighter and fluffier. If you can’t find it, try unsweetened applesauce or vegan mayo instead.
- All purpose flour. If I were to make this recipe gluten-free, I’d use a good quality cup for cup gluten-free blend such as King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour or Cup4Cup.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Salt: Don’t skip. This helps with the baking process. It also helps bring out the flavors and sweetness.
How to Properly Measure Flour
We want to measure our flour by weight, not by volume. When you scoop flour out of a bag or tin with a measuring cup, you're packing it in there and not necessarily getting the same amount each time.
What's better is to use a food scale with a tare function (allowing you to zero out the scale after you've put the bowl on it so your bowl isn't playing a factor in your equation.
Working in grams, put your bowl on the scale and zero it out. Scoop the flour into the bowl until you reach the desired measurement.
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How to Make Vegan Olive Oil Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Grease your entire cake tin with olive oil spray (or any). I like an easy release so I also recommend lining your cake tin with a parchment paper circle. Simply cut a circle just slightly smaller than the outside of the bottom of the pan (trace around it with a pencil and cut on the inside of the line), and insert it so it lays flat, I recommend doing that AFTER spraying.
- Note about pans: I love these 9” spring form pans as it’s VERY easy to release cake from them, but you could use a regular cake pan if you prefer. If you want your cake even taller, use an 8” pan and bake for 2-3 more minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Set up your Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer or whatever vegan egg you’re using. I use the package-indicated ratio of 2 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon powder, though I double that for this recipe so it makes 2 “eggs.” Whisk together in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the zest of one lemon and your sugar. Mix the lemon zest in with the sugar--I find it best to rub it into the sugar with my fingers. This will help the zest disperse and not clump together.
- Then add the lemon juice, olive oil, and plain vegan yogurt. By now your vegan eggs should also be ready so scrape the thick mixture into the mixing bowl. Whisk the wet mixture thoroughly until it looks cohesive and smooth, about 30-60 seconds.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients on top of the wet: baking soda then flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a spatula to gently mix together the ingredients, being careful not to overmix. It will be a thick batter!
- Transfer all of the batter to your cake pan, making sure to scrape out the bowl. Use your spatula to level out the batter in the cake pan, and then gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to shake out any air bubbles.
- Bake for 33 - 36 minutes, or until the cake has turned golden and slightly browned on the edges, and when an inserted toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar or you can frost it if you’d like! Serve vegan olive oil cake with some vegan whipped cream or whipped aquafaba, and some fresh raspberries. Enjoy!
- Store the cake for up to 5 days in an airtight container (I use a cake carrier but a stand with a cloche would be fancy!) on the counter.
Frequently Asked Questions
While olive oil is used to make this cake rich, fluffy, and moist (sorry), it does not have a super strong olive oil flavor. Remember that the sugar and lemon zest+juice influence the flavor quite a bit. When using regular olive oil, this just tastes like a delicious yellow cake. The extra virgin olive oil, if used, would lend a bit stronger of a flavor but it was still delicious when I tried it.
Yes, if you’re worried about the flavor or you just have something else on hand, feel free to use any neutral oil you like.
I wouldn’t. When testing my vegan lemon poppyseed muffins, I tried to use a lot of lemon juice and my cake kept sinking. If you want more lemon, try adding a teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter. Or make a glaze from vegan powdered sugar, lemon juice, and a splash of non-dairy milk to add to the cake later. That’s what I did for my vegan lemon loaf and it’s fantastically lemon flavored.
I recommend serving slices of vegan olive oil cake with some fresh raspberries and a dollop of vegan whipped cream.
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Pro Tips for Baking Success
- Please measure your flour when baking by weight on a food scale, as it’s the most accurate and will give you the best outcome. If you don’t have a food scale, measure by spooning and leveling the flour (tons of easy tutorials online, and I’ve explained in the section above how to do it). When you scoop your flour cup into the bag, you’re packing extra flour into the measuring cup. Too much flour and this recipe may turn out dense.
- Fully mix your wet ingredients, but only gently fold the dry ingredients in, as to not overmix your batter. Overmixed flour can get gummy, and overmixed baking powder can have difficulty rising.
- Don’t be tempted to add more lemon juice to the recipe, as it may make your cake sink! Add a teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter or try a lemon glaze made from powdered sugar, lemon juice, and a little non-dairy milk to amp up the lemon flavor.
- Bake on the center rack in the center of your oven. If you frequently struggle following baking recipes, try getting an oven thermometer. Some ovens run hotter or cooler than they say. You can then adjust baking time if you find your oven is wrong.
- Let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Since I use a springform pan, I let it cool completely in the pan and release it with no issues. If using a traditional pan, let cool for at least 20 minutes, then run a butter knife along the inside edge if anything is sticking to the edge. Let it finish cooling on a baking rack.
- Let your cake cool completely before frosting or dusting with powdered sugar.
More Recipes Like This
I may not be a master cake baker, but I enjoy making vegan cakes! It’s a fun challenge, but it’s even more fun to eat a delicious cake you’ve baked yourself. Here are some of my favorite cake recipes.
- Vegan Coconut Cake (my absolute favorite!)
- Vegan Hummingbird Cake
- Fan Favorite Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Lemon Loaf
- Vegan Tres Leches
- Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Coffee and Walnut Cake
- Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- And of course Vegan Apple Cake with delicious bursts of apple in every bite.