I’m not really into generic sponge cakes. They’re rarely moist, because recipes call for way too long oven times, and people tend to over bake them and/or hold back on the fat, making the cakes stale after just a couple of hours. And then there’s this idea that you definitely need chemical leaven to make a cake fluffy. The problem with baking powder and baking soda is that it does give the cake a chemical flavor. It can be minimized by making sure that there’s just enough acid in there to neutralize the sodium bicarbonate, but I find that the method often fails. Unlike yeast-leavened creations where one could say “I like the yeasty notes”, I don’t think many people would say “I like that metallic sodium bicarbonate flavors in there”. However, as a matter of fact, you can make a cake leavened mechanically by whipping air into it. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this lemon and olive oil cake. And the generous amount of olive oil not only gives it a wonderful flavor, but also keeps the cake moist for a long time. This olive oil cake is probably one of my favorite sponge cake recipes.

A knife cutting into a lemon and olive oil cake

Time it takes

About 15 minutes to prepare the ingredients, and to mix it all up. And then about 30 minutes in the oven, but don’t look at the time. Look at the inner temperature!

Ingredients for a lemon and olive oil cake

  • 160 g of sugar (a little more than 2 dl)
  • 20 g of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (yes, real bakers will say that it depends on the size of the egg, but come on…)
  • 110 grams of egg white (so egg white from about 3 average eggs)
  • 25 g of lemon juice (2,5 cl, so about half a lemon)
  • 3 vanilla beans (just the seeds, scraped out, or a teaspoon of pure real vanilla powder)
  • 3 g of lemon zest (from about half a lemon, that is)
  • 115 g of wheat flour (that’s about 1.92 dl, so just under 2 will do, it’s not a life or death situation. Some will say you need the industrially blenched stuff to get the right texture, but I prefer my organic one)
  • 160 g of extra virgin olive oil (a little more than 1,7 dl, so just put in about 1 and 3/4 dl, and you’ll be fine)
  • 8 g of salt (that’s about three pinches of salt. Use a good flaky sea salt, it tastes better and its quite pleasant to touch)
  • And you’ll need two bowls or containers in which you can mix stuff.

This is how you make the lemon and olive oil cake

  1. Combine about 110 g of the sugar (1.2 dl), the egg yolk, all the lemon juice, all the vanilla bean seeds, and the lemon zest. Whisk it, either by using a stand mixer or the classic hand held type.
  2. Gradually sift all the flour into the sugar mix, while mixing.*
  3. Pour in olive oil in a slow stream. You don’t want the thing to separate, you want a nice consistent batter, so take it easy (there’s lemon juice in there, which is full of water, that doesn’t like fat). Set the mix aside.
  4. Into a new clean bowl, add all the egg whites and g of salt (about one pinch, that is). Mix on high speed until the eggs are all foam. We’re not looking for meringue foam for the moment. Just generally foamy.
  5. Gradually add the rest of the sugar.
  6. Now mix the heck out of those egg whites, until they form peaks, and you can pretty much turn the bowl upside down without the content falling out.
  7. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. I use a spatula and do it one third at a time, incorporating while at the same time trying not to beat the air bubbles out of the mixture. You see, as I mentioned in the introduction, we’re using mechanical leaven here (the tiny air bubbles are our friends)
  8. Set the oven to 165°C / 329°F.**
  9. Coat a 22 cm (about 9″) springform pan with butter and dust it with flour. Pour batter into pan.
  10. Pour batter into the pan, and place it in the oven. Stick a thermometer in the olive oil cake batter.*** When the inner temperature of the cake is 95°C, it’s done. Take it out and let it cool completely.
  11. Once the olive oil cake has cooled, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the rest of the salt (about two pinches) and sprinkle it over the cake. It looks very generous, but it’s excellent. The saltiness and the sweetness works absolutely wonderful. As a matter of fact, salt has the effect that it makes sweet taste even sweeter.

Recipe notes

*  If you have a friend holding a hand mixer, then you’re all set. If not, then I guess you have to stop, sift in a little, mix, and then stop again.

** I recommend you buy an oven thermometer, so you can check what the actual heat in there is. Don’t trust your oven knobs. Unless you have an extremely expensive oven that controls the heat in there and keeps it constant.

*** Using time as a unit of measurement, is really bad. The cake often turns out undercooked or dry. Instead, buy a cheap meat thermometer.

Slice of lemon and olive oil cake

53 Responses

  1. Luca

    Hey Food Emperor, what’s up? Luca from Italy here.

    Had to bake a cake yesterday so I gave yours a try, needless to say it was delicious. My batter didn’t turn out as smooth as yours did, and the cake is also a bit thinner but the taste amazed pretty much everyone that tried it!

    Photo evidence of what’s left of the final result (as you can see, even the plate is wet):


    Thanks again for your videos,


    • The Food Emperor

      Look at that! Amazing! Can I use your picture on my Facebook site?

    • tuhaj

      use good butter. if u cant get it – make it (damn troublesome)(but worth it) gl anyway 🙂

  2. Gr4b4rz

    Cześć! Prosze Cię abyś dał mi tytuł piosenki! Uwielbiam twoje filmiki!

  3. MartaMinako

    Con questa torta romantica mi hai conquistato! Vieni in Sardegna a cucinare per me! 😀 Ti adoro FoodEmperor! <3

    • The Food Emperor

      Fantastic! I published your picture on Facebook =)

  4. Przemek

    Czy muszę używać takiego termometru z kablem, bo w domu mam taki do mięsa co się wbija i cały siedzi w piekarniku?

  5. Ted

    Bardzo ciekawe ciasto. Trochę przypomina babkę cytrynową. Faktycznie – oliwa musi być najlepszej jakości i nie można przetrzymać ciasta w piekarniku.
    Oto co mi wyszło (płaskie bo nie mogłem znaleźć mniejszej blachy):
    Najważniejsze, że bardzo smakowało Małemu:
    Dziękuję za przepis, bardzo smaczne sweek&salty.
    Będę próbował kolejnych przepisów i gratuluję pomysłowości!

  6. Paweł

    Hey Food Emperor 😉

    It turns out that I have only bigger rectangular baking tray at home – so the cake should be taller to make an effect. In that case, may I just double (or multiply by 1,5) the ingredients proportions or will it kill the recipe, because e.g. the edges will overburn while the inside will be raw? Should I decrease the temperature a bit then to avoid burning (provided the bigger proportions)?

    BTW. Thanks a lot for what you`re doing here. I made Kurczak Pierdolony last Saturday and it was aweeesome. It may not look that pro as yours, but you bet it was great! 😉


    • The Food Emperor


      I’m glad you like the recipes. Multiplying by 1,5-2 will work, because it’s cooked on quite low heat. Use a thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook it, though. The old trick of sticking a pin into it and see if it comes out clean, only tells you if it’s undercooked or not hence it doesn’t tell you if it’s over cooked. Don’t make the cake too thick, though, or it will take too long to cook through and might become dry close to the surface.

  7. Ines Moskal

    Just tried the ‘raw’ batter and it tastes bitter. It tastes like olive oil, I hope the heat will heal it 😀 Poczekam kurwa.

  8. pigropandagropanda

    Hi, Food Emperor!
    I gave a try of this magnificent cake, yesterday, and I can’t send you any decent photo because it was over almost immediately.
    After reading the comments to the post, I tried to multiply the ingredients for 1,5, since my only pan is 26cm, with some adjustments because I don’t even want to think to cut a yolk in half (I’m very far from a Real Baker)… It worked! But the bottom of the cake tried to burned (that bastard), I suspect that’s because my oven is mean (+ I didn’t find a oven thermometer yesterday).
    I found very interesting the technique of using a meat termometer to check the inner temperature of the cake. How did you learn this technique? Is there any book/blog you would recommend in order to get this kind of “scientific” information?
    Con immutata stima, la saluto,

  9. kasiorka

    can i just ask: for how long did you keep the cake in the oven? tylko orientacyjnie

    • The Food Emperor

      About 20 minutes. But time isn’t the best way of measuring it. I really recommend two thermometers. One external to tell you your true oven temperature (because ovens lie), and one to measure the temperature inside your cake/meat to know when it’s ready.

    • The Food Emperor

      High-ratio cakes like this one need bleached wheat flour. You’ll get a too dense and flat cake if you use spelt although it is a very tasty flour indeed. But not for this cake. Generally I don’t recommend 100% spelt flour for anything that needs to be fluffy or chewy. When you make pizza, use half spelt and half regular flour.

  10. Przemysław Osłowski


    kilka dni temu zrobiłem ciasto na podstawie tego przepisu. Wyszło rewelacyjnie. Mięciutkie, kruche. Czekam na inne Pana przepisy.


  11. Szymon Rychlik

    Mój panie, mistrzu, kapitanie statku życia, królu wszechwładny, co gromisz plebejuszy – Food Emperorze!

    Zrobiłem to przefantastyczne ciasto dokładnie stosując się do Twych bezcennych poleceń. Jest wyśmienite tak, że z radości merdam swoim leniwym chujem, który przed wzięciem pierwszego kęsa obleciał już całą polską okolicę 9000 razy, aby głosić chwałę tej kulinarnej kreacji. Wybacz mi tylko jedno… W euforii źle posmarowałem blachę, przez co mój szlachetny wypiek przykleił się trochę do niej. Próba wyjmowania go z formy zakończyła się sromotną klęską. Jest to perła smaku, która przybrała kształt końskiego gówna. Jeszcze raz wybacz. Następnym razem zrobię to perfekcyjnie, obiecuję. Tutaj przesyłam zdjęcie : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3znvwHpJweETXVYZWowbWVoUzg/view?usp=sharing

  12. Czesław

    Dear Emperor,
    There is a small mistake in recipe with ingredens. There is written: “160 g of extra virgin olive oil (a little more than 1,7 dl, so just put in about 1 and 1/4 dl, and you’ll be fine)” but 1,7 dl is almost 1 and 3/4 not 1/4. I know it is a small mistake but maybe you want to change it.
    PS. Nie bądź leniwym kutasem albo leniwą pizdą i popraw.


  13. toffik

    Z żółtkiem i resztą to mieszyamy zwykły cukier czy cukier puder? Mam wątpliwosci bo na filmiku jak bym widzial zwykly cukier a tu pisze puder.

  14. Emilia

    Oh my fucking God! Made it, tasted it, loved it. You are genius! The best sponge cake I have ever had. Poland loves you and I love you from now on.

    • The Food Emperor

      You are the best Pole in all of Poland!

  15. Anita

    Pycha!! Tylko strasznie mało tego wychodzi. Ja bym podwoiła składniki.

  16. Adam

    That sucks i think , sorry man , i did all how it should be and it is a piss of crap, other cakes i made are good but that is “kurwa jakie to chujowe”