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Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Much as I love my butter cakes, this Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake is a cake I could eat every day…if I could eat cake every day, that is. It’s rich, not too sweet, tangy and has just a little crunch of cornmeal.

meyer lemon olive oil cake 7a

There are a million olive oil cake recipes on the internet (and that might not be an exaggeration. There could actually be a million) and I’m sure some are better than others. This is a good one, if I do say so myself.

My recipe came about because I had a bunch of Meyer Lemons in the fridge that were going to go bad if I didn’t do something with them. It was my turn to host book group and I needed to bake something to serve. I hadn’t posted an olive oil cake recipe yet, so decided it was time to use the Meyer Lemons and create a new olive oil cake recipe.

Olive oil cake is, essentially, a chiffon cake. Chiffon cakes are oil based cakes, no butter in the batter. Because oil stays liquid at room temperature oil based cakes are soft and moist and have a very, very tender crumb. The problem with chiffon style cakes is that if there’s too much oil in the batter the cake can have an oily, pasty texture that’s not at all pleasant. It’s imperative to have a balanced recipe.

I started my recipe knowing I would use both the zest and the juice from the Meyer Lemons. Most of the flavor comes from the oils in the zest and most of the tang comes from the acidic juice. In order to keep the tangy flavor front and center I decided not to use acid-neutralizing baking soda. Instead I used baking powder to leaven the cake. To keep the style of the cake a little on the rustic side, I planned to add just a little cornmeal to the batter for a little crunch and color.

The first attempt at the recipe was not bad, but the texture was more like corn bread than cake. I’d added a little too much corn meal and not enough oil. Also, I’d separated the eggs and whipped the whites which made the crumb too open. This should be a slightly dense cake, like a pound cake. While it was an acceptable cake, it was not good enough. Back to the drawing board. (Of course, that meant I had to buy even more Meyer Lemons, oh well.)

For the second cake I changed the mixing method. I “ribboned” the eggs with the sugar, then added the oil, dry ingredients and lemon juice. “Ribboning” means you whisk the whole eggs with the sugar until they aerate and lighten in color. When you lift the whisk and drizzle the eggs into the bowl they’ll leave a “ribbon” on the surface. Hence the term, “ribbon” the eggs. You can see that in the photo below (despite the terrible lighting-I was baking at night).

how to ribbon eggs

The second cake was much better. With just a 1/2 cup of cornmeal I got the crunch and the nice yellow color that I wanted but the texture was still tender and cakey. Adding an extra 1/4 cup of olive oil made the cake very moist with a barely discernible olive oil flavor in the background.

Bake the cake in a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan. The batter may not bake up properly in a round or loaf shaped pan. It is a very wet batter and might not have enough structure without the opening in the middle of the pan.

meyer lemon olive oil cake 2a

meyer lemon olive oil cake 3a

meyer lemon olive oil cake 6a

meyer lemon olive oil cake 8aNot only does Olive Oil Cake keep well at room temperature, it actually gets better the first day or two after it’s baked. This cake is so moist it doesn’t need anything but sprinkle of sugar for a pretty finish. Of course you could plate it with some fresh berries for a fancier presentation.

meyer lemon olive oil cake 7a
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4.58 from 40 reviews

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Not only does Olive Oil Cake keep well at room temperature, it actually gets better the first day or two after it's baked. This cake is so moist it doesn't need anything but sprinkle of sugar for a pretty finish. Of course you could plate it with some fresh berries for a fancier presentation.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
16 slices


  • 15 ounces all purpose flour (3 cups)
  • 3 ounces corn meal (½ cup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 18 ounces granulated sugar (2 ¼ cups)
  • 1 pound lemons (about 5 (see note))
  • 6 large eggs
  • 10 ounces extra virgin olive oil (1 ¼ cups)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Coat a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan with pan spray, or butter and flour.
  • Combine the flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together to distribute the baking powder, set aside.
    15 ounces all purpose flour, 3 ounces corn meal, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon table salt
  • Put the granulated sugar into a mixer bowl. Grate the lemon zest right onto the sugar and mix the zest through the sugar. Juice the lemons into a measuring cup, you should get about ¾ cup of juice. Set the lemon juice aside.
    18 ounces granulated sugar, 1 pound lemons
  • Add the eggs to the sugar. Beat the eggs and sugar together on medium speed until the eggs aerate, thicken and lighten in color.
    6 large eggs
  • With the mixer running on low, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the lemon juice, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
    10 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • Take the batter off the mixer and mix by hand to ensure there are no lumps of batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted in the cake comes away clean, about 50-60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Serve sprinkled with a little powdered sugar


My Book
KA Stand Mixer
KA Hand Mixer
Bundt Pan
Cooling Rack

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You can use any citrus fruit in place of lemons. Oranges, grapefruit, meyer lemon, lime or blood orange will work. The number of fruits will vary based on how big the fruit is and how much juice it yields. Always use 3/4 cup of juice whichever fruit you use.
The cake keeps well at room temperature for several days.


Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 208mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 111IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


Wednesday 21st of December 2022

Thanks so much. I have high cholesterol so I’m always looking for oil cake recipes. Have a question regarding sugar to flour ratio for cakes. How much sugar could I reduce without ruining the integrity of the cake? Instead of baking the lemon juice with the cake batter, I want to pour lemon syrup ( lemon juice+sugar or confectioner sugar) on the cake instead, like your lemon pound cake recipe.


Saturday 22nd of January 2022

Love this recipe! I used almond flour instead of corn meal and it was delish. Definitely better the next day. I only needed to use three lemons though to get enough juice.

Eileen, how would you recommend modifying this to make with oranges? My friends have given me a bag filled with fresh picked Valencia oranges from their tree and I’d love to bake a cake with them!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

As long as you use the same amount of juice (3/4 cup) you can use oranges. You can use the zest from the number of oranges it takes to get 3/4 cup of juice.


Thursday 20th of May 2021

I am new to baking and love the way you lay out the science of it all. I have baked a few of your cakes and they where all exceptional. I know I probably missed it but was wondering exactly how much zest to you use ?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 20th of May 2021

I use the zest from all the lemons.

Claudia Betancourt

Sunday 16th of August 2020

Hi, I want to cook this cake at high altitud, (9.000 ft), what changes have I do? Thank you

Eileen Gray

Sunday 16th of August 2020

Wish I could help you, but sorry, I'm not an expert in high altitude baking.

Monali Mohapatra

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Hi Eileen, First of all Thank you very much for writing about the fundamentals of baking ingredients. We may find billions of recipes for a single cake but nobody explains the basis of choosing the ingredients and there measures. I am very very new to the baking world and had only one successful attempt of baking a chocolate cake out of many failed attempts. That's where i decided i will first understand the fundamentals and try new things. My question is, in most of the cake recipes you use cake flour but here you have used All purpose flour. Because we are using Olive oil which anyways will make the cake moist, so you used all purpose flour to give structure. Is my understanding correct?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 9th of January 2020

Yes! The olive oil makes the cake super tender. Also the corn meal doesn't contribute to the structure as the flour does. The lemon juice also tenderizes the cake. Because we have the oil, corn meal and juice tenderizing the cake we need the all purpose flour to give it enough structure. Thanks for the question!