olive oil almond cake

almond olive oil cake - glazed, cooling

Consider this an open apology letter to Gina DePalma, pastry-chef extraordinaire at Babbo. Gina, I should never have second-guessed you on anything, especially the brown butter glaze you instructed for this cake. In the future, I will follow all your recipes to the minutest detail and never ever doubt your wisdom and experience.

You might be thinking, what is she talking about? After all, there is glaze on that cake in the picture. And yes, glaze surely is on this divine almond olive oil cake, but it almost didn’t make it there. You see, I’ve an aversion to sugar glazes or things that are overly sweet. And my favorite cakes, such as this one, or the ginger pear one I made a few months back, are moderately sweet, a bit restrained in their sugar content. Plus, I find sugar glaze kind of disgusting to touch, I know – I’m an odd duck. And in case you were wondering, I really really cannot get on board with sticky buns. Homemade or otherwise – they simply gross me out.

almond olive oil cake ready to bakealmond olive oil cake - baked and cooling

And so while I was making this cake, I had absolutely no intention of making the glaze. I decided upon it so firmly that I even said it to myself out loud while I was mixing the cake batter – sometimes I talk to myself while I cook, or rather, talk myself through the recipe. Does anyone else do that? Or did I just confess to being the ultimate kitchen weirdo?

almond olive oil cake

But then, looking upon the baked cake that sat so peacefully and plainly on my kitchen counter, I felt like it just needed something. A little accessory to make it pretty and festive, like lip gloss, or a pretty purse – my cake needed something. And I read through the recipe again and my eyes drew to Ms. DePalma’s name, I thought to myself, “You idiot, the woman works at Babbo. Don’t you think she knows best? Don’t you think she would have omitted the glaze were it not absolutely divine?” And with that thought, I ignored my own prejudices and made the brown butter glaze.

almond olive oil cake

First of all, let me repeat. Brown. Butter. Glaze. As in, why did I question anything with brown butter in it? Why? Clearly, I have much to learn. And secondly, my goodness! This cake! The flavors of olive oil and almonds! The glaze! The subtle hint of citrus on my palate! This was superbly moist, delicate, comforting. And it’s got to be the easiest thing I have ever baked. It requires no electric appliances at all, and you need only two bowls and a whisk. Mix your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, fold the batter gently, and bake. When the cake cools, glaze it and let it sit. Easy does it. And with the glaze the cake shines; the flavors just dance. Which is exactly what you’ll want to do around your kitchen after you have a slice of this.

Moist Almond Olive Oil Cake (Torta di Mandorla)
Adapted from Gina DePalma – pastry chef at Babbo via Serious Eats

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Grated zest of 1 medium lemon or 1/4 a medium orange
1/2 cup orange juice

For the Glaze:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
A few drops of fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.

3. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

7. While the cake cools, make the glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. When the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. When the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. It will continue to darken as it sits.

8. While the butter cools, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. Taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. Stir in the toasted almonds. Spread the almonds and glaze onto the top and sides of the cake and let it sit until set and dry.


  • Melissa

    Wow, this really does look amazing.
    Almonds, check.
    Olive oil, um yeah.
    Brown butter, done deal.
    I am baking it :)
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    PS…just happened upon your blog a week or so ago–love love love it!

  • darla

    Oh, heck yeah!
    I don’t have almond flour but I’ve got a ton of almonds sitting around. Can I just grind almonds in a food processor? I know you can do this with some sugar to keep it from going oily, but I’m not sure if the end result is the same thing as almond flour.

  • Angry Brit

    I’m so glad you posted this! I saw this recipe on the Serious Eats website and I thought it looked divine. I will be making this as soon as humanly possible. I love the idea of using olive oil in a cake.

  • Amanda

    I wanted to make this cake when it popped up on Serious Eats and you’ve refreshed my memory! It’s on my to-do list… Normally I have a strong aversion to glazes too but in this case, I think it sounds delightful. These olive/almond/cornmeal cakes work so well with some kind of sugary glaze.

  • Paula Maack

    See, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t bake anything else this week. And then I stopped by and was floored by your exquisite looking cake.
    Darned you, Sassy Radish!!!! Now you’ve done it! ;)
    I am glad you got past the glaze.
    I must have that cake! I must have it NOW!!!
    Darn you! That just rocks.
    ~ Paula

  • radish

    Melissa – thank you so much – let me know how the cake turns out!
    Darla – I would imagine that grinding almonds down will give you a very fine almond meal, but still not as fine as a flour. My local Whole Foods carries it and since it’s NYC WF it’s not THAT well stocked – so I am sure if you have one nearby, it will have it too.
    Paula – I’m sorry for thwarting your baking moratorium – but this cake is totally worth it.
    Everyone who plans on baking this – let me know if you don’t love it – I thought it was divine.

  • Makey-Cakey

    Hmmm – I’m intrigued by the dairy-free aspect to the cake – espcially if it’s as good as it’s cracked up to be – have got a few non-dairy colleauges at work which makes my turn on the cake rota tricky to find something both interesting and suitable. Guess I’ll have to think of an alternative solution to try for the glaze, but I’ll definitely give it a shot :0)

  • radish

    Makey-Cakey, I guess you can always do a simple sugar glaze, I’d up the lemon just so it’s not so sickeningly sweet, but I don’t see why you can’t just do a plain sugar glaze. This cake is so easy, and so delicious.

  • m

    I just got this cookbook at a hurt-book sale for $5. Looks so yummy I went and bookmarked the page. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • allyn

    I have an aversion to glaze as well! And, I too, cannot deal with sticky buns either (though that mainly originates from a traumatic childhood experience of being forced to eat a burnt cinnamon bun). Whatever, this cake looks amazing and you’re right – nothing can be wrong with brown butter in it!

  • Toni

    Almond flour/meal (they are the same thing) is ground up almonds. You can try it at home, Darla (and you were right about using sugar in tandem to keep it from getting oily…don’t forget to subtract it from the sugar in the recipe!…but, because almond flour is done with commercial grinders, you won’t get quite the same result…) but a lot of markets sell it nowadays. I live in NJ, and yes, there are Whole Foods here also…but I got mine at ShopRite, in the organic/natural foods section. Bob’s Red Mill sells almond flour/meal for about $7.00 for 16 oz./1 lb. That’s pricey for poor folks (like me) but most recipes don’t call for a great deal, so you can use it through multiple recipes. (I originally bought it to make macarons and I still have at least half a bag left.)
    I wonder if this chef from Babbo adapted it from Marcella Hazan, the doyenne of Italian cooking? She’s got a recipe that’s called something like Nonna’s Olive Oil Cake or something like that…some old-timey recipe that’s been around forever. It’s one of those things that one grows up with locally, that every family has a version of…like sugar or chocolate chips cookies or coffee cake.

  • Judith

    I made it tonight since the oven was on for some frozen meat pies (OK, sounds lame, but do I get back a few HP since they are from the local >100 mile farmers’ market?) I did use some on-hand toasted almonds swirled in the food processor and it worked fine; cake is still light and texture is interesting. Since I had more than half a cup I added a tablespoon to the glaze instead of sliced almonds. Hubby isn’t one for sweet stuff, so the glaze wasn’t his fave, but he did eat it!
    Nom, nom, nom.

  • radish

    Toni, thank you so much for clarifying — I thought almond flour and meal were different – that’s great to know! I would think that many Italian dessert chefs know of an olive cake. I think it’s very popular in Italy and also Spain.
    Judith – no shame in frozen meat pies :) I’m sure they were delicious! Glad you liked the cake.

  • DD

    I’ve never understood olive oil cake and get the distinct impression I’m missing out on something. Hmm. I shall have to join the party.

  • Jake

    This cake was grand. Sure the almond flour was pricey, but I felt exotic using an ingredient I’ve never used before. Thank you for the recipe. I plan on just going through your blog making something new every week.
    You have revived my cooking desire.

  • robin

    Radish, I just made this cake and I already *need* to get it out of my house. Too good! Brown-butter glaze is ahh-mazing.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Priscilla Burris

    I absolutely LOVE your recipe! THANK YOU for sharing!
    Baked two of these today ~ one for our daughter’s 21st birthday,
    at her request, to share with some friends!
    and second one for the rest of us in the family!
    Birthday Girl described your cake as “Scrumptious!”.
    House smells terrifically wonderful!

  • Rachel

    I saved this recipe last might and made it this afternoon. Yum yum yum into six bellies it went with everyone declaring it very tasty. I only used about half the glaze though so what can I do with the rest…apart from make another cake!

  • LISA

    I’m going to make this cake tomorrow and am very excited!! Compared to the Serious Eats article and other blog posts, your glaze is the prettiest – not as thick and stodgy as the others – any ideas what made yours different? Did you use all the glaze? Also I have a really nice olive oil that is quite a strong first-press and I’m not sure if it will be really fantastic or really overpowering. Did you use a very high quality olive oil or just a generic, grocery extra-virgin?
    Cannot wait for the brown butter!

  • radish

    Thanks, Lisa – not sure why my glaze looks the way it does. Maybe when I photographed it? I didn’t use my finest extra virgin, but I used a good oil – I think you can definitely try it – after all, you’re looking for a nice olive flavor. Good luck!!

  • emily

    I don’t know if this is an odd idea, but do you think these would work in cupcake form? I was thinking of doing one with a brown butter frosting instead. Or some sort of barely sweet frosting paired with the glaze.

  • Radish

    Emily – honestly, I am not sure. I would have to play with baking times as cupcakes bake faster, and not sure how many cupcakes this would yield. You can try it though?

  • botgurl

    This cake was FANTASTIC! Took me a whole year but I finally made it and boy was that a good idea. The brown butter glaze…I licked the bowl on that one!

  • Alexis Moniello

    Made this cake this weekend – best I’ve ever had! Also, not a baker, and it was pretty easy. Couldn’t find almond flour, so I used regular flour in its place and added a teaspoon of almond paste for flavor. (And the glaze is amazing!)

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Priscilla Burris

    Your Olive Oil Almond Cake recipe is AMAZING!!

    I am blogging about it today (though I don’t claim to be much of a cook or baker – this was a wonderful success!! yay!)

    Last year, for my daughter’s 21st birthday, I made it – – and she asked that I bake it again, for her 22nd birthday, today! It is amazingly delicious, crunchy out the outside/topping, and so moist on the inside. A treat for us all!

    THANK YOU for your recipe! It’s now a family favorite for all time!

  • Priscilla Burris

    Didn’t realize I had already sent you a comment, when I first made this cake last year at the request of my daughter!

    Just posted about it on my blog.

    Thanks, again, for sharing!

  • Candliz

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I had been wanting to make this for a few months and running across your blog totally re-insprired me to make it. Your pictures are great! It was a total success and I agree that the brown butter glaze definitely completes it!

  • kaitlyn

    this recipe had been sitting in my box for months until i just made it today. wow. so amazing! i am not usually a cake person but this is just delicious. can’t wait to try some of the other recipes you have on here, great site :)

  • Jessica

    I bought some blood orange infused olive oil a few weeks ago, and have been wanting to test it with some citrus/orange olive oil cake. I used this recipe for the most part, except instead of the almond flour (which I didn’t have and didn’t feel like going to the store for!) I used all AP flour, and then mixed in toasted and crumbled almond slivers to the final product just before baking to make sure I’d get some of that almond flavor. I made the recipe 50% larger, and used my super pretty patterned bundt pan to bake it (just reduced the time a bit). It smells amazing, and looks so pretty on the cake plate. I can’t wait to frost it (I, too, hate most icing and overly sweet stuff in general, but I”m taking your word for it on this one, because it’s brown butter!)

  • Debbie

    I made this cake for a dinner party and loved the texture and the taste, for the most part. However, I found it to be salty. But only on the bottom! Strange, anyone else encounter this? One whole teaspoon of kosher salt for a cake seems like a lot. But I am hooked and will make it again, just may cut that down and try table salt instead. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Pam

    I made this cake over the holidays and just came back to get the recipe again; it is an absolutely fantastic cake; so moist and flavorful and the icing is just as good and provided a wonderful balance; getting ready to make it again for Easter Sunday and can’t wait to try it again; the last one I made was scarfed up so fast I had only a smalll sample so this time I’m getting mine first!!!

  • Tamara

    Debbie – I made the cake for Father’s Day and I too found it too salty due to the kosher salt. The texture and the flavor of the rest of the cake was great and it turned out just like the picture. I am going to make the cake again tonight and cut out the salt in the recipe and use salted butter in the glaze instead.

  • Karen

    Wow!!! This cake is fantastic!!! I had started the day making Guy Fieri’s Orange and Olive Oil Cake (disaster, he used yeast instead of baking powder). The syrup on his recipe was delicious. I went online to look for another recipe and low and behold I found yours. This was very easy to make and was the best olive oil cake I have ever had. I did use Guy’s orange syrup instead of the brown butter, but next time I will use your glaze. A definte keeper. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Radish

    Karen – delighted to hear you love it as much as I do. I highly recommend Gina de Palma’s dessert book – it’s simply a stunner of a book!!

  • Jill

    This cake is delicious!!! I made it last night for my hubby and he did a ‘happy dance’ at the table. He likes simple cakes like this one. I am not a baker. But I find that I can make olive oil cakes come out pretty good. I’ve made several variations over the years. But this one is the best I’ve ever made! I served it without the glaze(just used powdered sugar on the top) and some light whipped cream on the side. Soooo easy and soooo good! We had it with some hot tea. Now, I must try one of your other humble, simple cakes! This cake was the perfect pick-me-up for these cold New England winter months. We loved it!!! Thank you!

  • bobby

    I made a blood orange version of this last night – using blood oranges for the juice and rind — and also do a blood orange glaze instead (50% sugar 50% blood orange juice) and powdered sugar instead. YUMM!!!!

  • Andréa W

    I’ve made this about a half dozen times since this recipe was posted and it’s always a total success. I’ve always done lemon and today I’m doing orange for the first time. Wish me luck!

  • Alex H

    Baked this but with less sugar in the brown butter glace (4 tbsp) and it was easily one of the best almond cakes I have baked. Moist, full of flavour and the brown butter glace was so delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kate

    This is the first time I’ve made or had Almond cake. You had me at olive oil. I live an hour and a half from a grocer so I had to make my own almond flour, I blanched my almonds and Milled them skin off using a tiny bit of sugar as suggested by another reviewer. I’ll be making this again for company but will be picking up almond flour, will be interested to see if it tastes the same.

  • Valerie

    Can I make the cake one day ahead of time and then glaze it before serving? If so, how would you recommend storing it?

  • olga

    valerie – I would glaze the day of but make the cake the day before if you need to. So sorry for late response!

  • Ros

    This recipe really delivers on all of its promise! Including the part about easy to make. A heck of a huge return for so little work. One maybe helpful note. I never had whole milk around, and wouldn’t buy it for just a 2 Tablespoon recipe. So I used skim. it was perfect. I can’t compare it to the glaze ade with whole milk, but it was really terrific.

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