Upside-Down Orange Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Citrus Cake | The Northwest Woman

Olive oil cake is a subtle dessert, and I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s not very flashy, it’s easy to make, and isn’t too sweet, which makes it a great after-dinner treat or even the perfect breakfast companion to a big cup of coffee.

I recently had a splendid run-in with this dessert. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver B.C., head to Ask for Luigi for dinner and get the olive oil cake (and a big plate of pasta.) I owe my friends Lisa & Elie a giant “thank you” for the amazing recommendation!

The simplicity of the olive oil cake I had at Ask for Luigi stuck with me for weeks, and put me in the baking mood. I had a small group of friends over for dinner recently, and decided to whip one up for the occasion, and layer on some citrusy-sweetness by making an upside-down orange olive oil cake. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Olive Oil Citrus Cake | The Northwest Woman

Upside-Down Orange Olive Oil Cake

Prep time: About 30 minutes

Bake time: 50 minutes


  • Medium/large sauce pan
  • Cake pan (or a springform pan)
  • Whisk and spatula
  • Medium and large mixing bowls



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 orange, cut into thin, round slices, with the peels on.


  • 3 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

Start the citrus topping:

  1. Add the 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a medium/large saucepan. Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add your thin slices of orange to the mix, laying them out so they don’t overlap in the pan.
  3. Continue to cook the orange on medium heat. The sugar-water mix will start to bubble and cook down into a syrup.
  4. About 4 or 5 minutes into cooking, flip the orange slices over and continue to stir occasionally until the sugar-water mix is cooked down into an amber-colored syrup and the orange sliced start to darken and deepen in color.
  5. Remove the pan from heat.
  6. Using a fork, line the bottom of your cake pan or springform cake pan with the orange slices. I made a second layer of orange slices to fill in gaps along the top.
  7. Pour the syrup from the saucepan into the cake pan to top off the orange slices. Set aside.

Then start the cake mix:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar with 3 teaspoons of orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until it’s well combined. This will infuse the citrus flavor into the cake.
  2. Add the 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice and 3/4 cup plain yogurt to the sugar and whisk together.
  3. Mix in the 3 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: 1½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the larger bowl, slowly mixing it in until everything is combined.
  6. Fold in the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil using a spatula.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan to cover the orange bottom layer.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes, then allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Remove the cake from the pan to serve by flipping it upside down and carefully sliding it out using a spatula. 


Photos by Matthew Land.

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