An easy recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake that also happens to be vegan and full of whole, unprocessed ingredients. Use whole wheat pastry flour for a tender cake with a nutritious boost!
I love talking about food with foodies.
I had a conversation with my friend Alisha, and she told me about an Olive Oil Cake that was so good, it “haunted her dreams.” Would I be up for the challenge of creating a similar cake?
I immediately agreed, knowing my baking would be restrained by Alisha’s vegan diet. She also mentioned that a cake made with as many whole, unprocessed ingredients as possible would be preferred. And, if I could have it done in time for spring, all the better.
Can you use Olive Oil to bake a cake?
When you bake with oil instead of butter in a cake recipe, you don’t have to wait for butter to soften. You can immediately, easily, cream oil and sugar together.
Extra virgin olive oil has a stronger flavor than other olive oils, so choose an oil with a mild taste when you’re baking.
How to Make Vegan Buttermilk
Whisk together unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as unsweetened almond milk, with lemon juice and let it set aside to curdle.
In this recipe, I also added lemon zest to the buttermilk for an extra lemony boost.
Baking with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
I used 100% whole wheat pastry flour in my recipe for the most nutrition and a nutty flavor. You could also use 50% whole wheat pastry flour and 50% all-purpose flour.
However, whole wheat flour is NOT the same as whole wheat pastry flour. All of your baked goods will be heavier and denser if you use regular whole wheat flour.
Turbinado sugar, also known as “sugar in the raw,” is an unprocessed form of sugar. You can substitute 1 cup of regular granulated sugar for the 1 cup of Turbinado in this recipe.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake (Vegan)
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (see note 1)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3/4 cup turbinado sugar (see note 2)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (see note 3)
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
- To make vegan buttermilk, in a small bowl whisk together almond milk, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Set aside to blend for 5 minutes
- Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and olive oil in a large bowl until creamy. Whisk in buttermilk mixture.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold into buttermilk mixture and stir until just incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs attached, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and cool completely.
To make the glaze:
- Whisk together remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over cooled cake, allowing excess to drip off the cake onto the baking sheet beneath.
- Unsweetened almond milk: This works one-for-one as a substitute for regular cow's milk in this and nearly any baking recipe. Here, I combine the plant-based milk with lemon juice to create a vegan buttermilk replacement. (In case you missed it, here's my non-vegan buttermilk swap!)
- Turbinado sugar: This sweetener is less processed than regular granulated sugar. The latter may or may not be vegan, depending on the brand and how its processed, so I formulated this olive oil cake recipe to use partially-refined turbinado. Some of the molasses from the sugarcane remains in the mix for turbinado sugar, so it has a subtle caramel flavor that plays nicely in this vegan dessert recipe.
- Olive oil: No need to splurge on the super-fancy and flavorful olive-green finishing oils. Mild-flavored, light olive oil is ideal for baking.
- Yield: My Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe makes eight generous slices.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: The cooled loaf (frosted or unfrosted) can be wrapped in a double-layer of freezer plastic, dated, labeled, and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.