Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf Cake with Yogurt Sauce


Olive oil?

In a CAKE?

I know – that was my first reaction as well when I saw this recipe, originally from the New York Times, on Smitten Kitchen.

Then I thought, if the recipe came from Melissa Clark and worked well for Deb, chances are it had to be delicious.

And you know what? It totally exceeded my expectations.

I made a couple of my typical alterations: subbing in whole wheat pastry flour and using unrefined sugar (and less of it).

I also whipped together a quick yogurt sauce to drizzle over the cake. You can’t really tell from these photos, but the sauce is a gorgeous hue of soft pink thanks to the vibrant blood orange juice. The yogurt sauce isn’t absolutely necessary – as the unadorned cake is incredibly moist – but condiments are fun ;).

I typically sub in unsweetened applesauce for about half of the fat in baked good recipes, but decided to only swap in a touch of it for this cake in reverence for the king of oils.

That would be olive oil. Which I fell in love with all over again thanks to this cake.

The pound cake-like texture yields a loaf that slices like butter and stays well in the refrigerator for days.

If it lasts that long.

This cake is perfect for those of you who dislike overly sweet desserts. The subtle – barely noticeable, really – bitterness from the olive oil is balanced out by the mellow sweetness of Turbinado sugar. The blood oranges lend not only a natural sweetness, but also an intoxicating aroma to the cake.

After falling hard for this loaf cake, I’m excited about the prospect of incorporating olive oil into my baking repertoire.

Do you have any recipes for baked goods that call for olive oil? Links are welcomed!

Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf Cake with Yogurt Sauce

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from the NY Times

Printer-Friendly Recipe

Ingredients for the cake:

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • zest from 2 blood oranges
  • juice from 1 blood orange, about 1/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup Turbinado sugar
  • scant (a little less than) 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • scant (a little less than) 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the Blood Orange-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • zest from 1/2 of a blood orange
  • juice from 1 blood orange
  • honey, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Combine orange zest and Turbinado sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.
  3. Add orange juice and buttermilk to sugar mixture and whisk well. Whisk in eggs, applesauce, and olive oil.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake cake for 45-50 minutes, or until it is golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out of pan and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. Wrap leftovers and store in the refrigerator.
  7. For the sauce, combine the yogurt, zest, and juice in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Sweeten to taste with honey.

3 thoughts on “Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf Cake with Yogurt Sauce

  1. Hello! I tried my hand at this today and wanted to stop by to say thank you for modifying the original recipe into a much healthier (but still tasty) loaf cake!

    I added 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds to the batter, just for a little something extra :) The texture and flavor are great — the only minor problem is that my loaf didn’t rise enough. I wonder if it had to do with my brand of WWPF since my baking powder and baking soda are both fresh. I use Bob’s Red Mill and noticed your cake is much lighter in color too…might be the photography but if you have a second to share the brand you used, it would be much appreciated! Thanks again.

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