Can You Use Olive Oil to Bake Cake?

Lineup of ingredients needed for blood orange olive oil cake

Last Updated on March 15, 2024 by Chris Whitehair

Can You Use Olive Oil to Bake Cake?

Ever since I debuted my Flower City Flavor Company olive oils and vinegars, I’ve asked myself this simple question.

I’m the ultimate sweet tooth person, so inquiring about new ways to utilize my products outside the norm has been a point of emphasis.

I took the time to test out my question and put it into a finished product, a blood orange olive oil cake!

Before getting into the recipe, we’ll take a look at three things you should know – olive oil vs. butter, substitution levels and olive oils vs. other oils.

Butter vs. Olive Oil

When it comes to baking, the decision to use butter or olive oil primarily comes down to a matter of both texture and flavor.

One of the great benefits of using olive oil – in cakes, specifically – is that the texture will be fluffier and will stay moist for longer than if you were to use butter.

Cakes made with olive oil instead of butter also tend to be lighter in texture and less dense due to its higher fat content and lighter weight.

Because butter contains milk solids and water (unlike olive oil, which is 100% fat), baking a cake with butter typically results in a more dense and structured texture.

One situation where a denser cake may be preferred is if you’re baking a multi-tiered cake, such as a wedding cake.

If you are planning on storing your cake in the refrigerator, olive oil is also preferred, as refrigerating a cake made with butter will cause the cake to become more firm (whereas a cake made with olive oil will maintain its light texture).

Many cake and pastry recipes call for butter instead of olive oil because the goal is to create a buttery flavor.

Examples of desserts where butter is typically preferred include croissants, butter cake, or pound cake.

In other recipes, however, using olive oil creates a light, nutty, and slightly fruity flavor that you won’t get from just using butter.

Olive oil often also better complements other ingredients found in cake recipes, such as fruit, nuts, or spices.

Additionally, using good quality flavored olive oils imparts a unique flavor to desserts, such as the Blood Orange Olive Oil used in this cake recipe.

In addition to creating a unique texture and flavor, baking with olive oil actually adds vitamins and antioxidants that aren’t found in butter.

Olive oil is also considered a “good” fat and has more benefits for your health and your heart than does butter.

Substitution Levels

If you want to bake a cake with olive oil but are using a recipe that calls for butter, you cannot simply substitute the same amount; rather, a slight conversion rate is required.

Below is a baking conversion rate guide for how much olive oil to substitute for butter depending on the amount (approximately .75:1 ratio olive oil to butter).

The main reason why it’s not a 1:1 substitution is due to the fact that olive oil is 100% fat, whereas butter tends to be about 80% fat (and 20% water and milk solids).

  • 1 teaspoon of butter = ¾ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter = 2¼ teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter = 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter = 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup butter = ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter = ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅔ cup butter = ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup butter = ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup butter = ¾ cup olive oil

Other Oils vs. Olive Oil

When choosing which oil to bake with, the two biggest factors you want to take into consideration are flavor and quality.

Compared to other vegetable oils like canola or peanut oil, olive oil has a stronger and more fruity flavor.

If you are looking for that fruity flavor, olive oil is the way to go; if you are baking with ingredients such as fruits, nuts, and spices, olive oil is also a great choice because its fruity flavor compliments such ingredients nicely.

When it comes to olive oil, not all oils are equal.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil available. It’s also very good for your overall health!

Extra virgin olive oil is made by grinding and pressing olives and extracting the oil without the use of any chemicals or heat, resulting in the purest olive oil flavor possible.

When choosing which olive oil to bake with, a good rule of thumb is that if you don’t like the flavor on its own (or when dipped in bread or drizzled on salads), then you should not bake with it, as its flavor will come through in the final product.

Putting our theory to the test

A Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Spoiler alert…it’s great! Take a look at this recipe and see for yourself if you can use olive oil to bake a cake. Here’s some pictures:

Slice of blood orange olive oil cake
Side view of a blood orange olive oil cake
A slice of blood orange olive oil cake on a plate

So, Can You Use Olive Oil to Bake Cake?

When it comes to cooking, I’ve always loved experimenting with new dishes.

Part of the joy I find in the kitchen is cooking with new ingredients and playing with different flavor and texture combinations.

When it comes to baking, however, I was always taught to not stray from recipes. After all, baking is a science.

So when I decided to experiment with baking with olive oil, I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect.

All I have to say is WOW, am I glad I strayed from tradition!

The texture of this Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake was so different from butter-based cakes I’ve made in the past – in the best way possible.

The crumb throughout was consistently even, the texture was light and airy yet moist and decadent.

And the flavor was so unique. I thought that using olive oil would make this cake more savory, but that wasn’t the case.

Instead, the fruitiness and slight nuttiness of the Blood Orange and Arbequina Olive Oils shone through and gave this cake a sophisticated touch and a certain brightness that was pleasantly unexpected.

I will be making this cake again, and I will definitely be experimenting more with baking with olive oils in the kitchen.

Perhaps a combination of Blood Orange Olive Oil and dark chocolate, or Arbequina Olive Oil and yellow peaches.

Or maybe even a savory Tuscan Herb Olive Oil bread loaf with olives and ricotta cheese. The possibilities are endless!

If anyone ever doubted if you can use olive oil to bake cake, they’d be wrong!

Ready to get baking? Check out all of our olive oil selections here!

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