kumquat olive oil cake.

do you even get an idea stuck in your head?

for the past two weeks, i’ve been obsessing over making an olive oil cake.

i was lazily flipping through an issue of Saveur a few days before heading to Atlanta for BlogHer Food and stumbled across a simple, intriguing olive oil cake, topped with thick Valencia orange slices. it looked gorgeous, and i dog-eared the page so as not to forget to make it as soon as i got back into town.

all the excitement of my trip to Atlanta caused me to, of course, completely forget about the olive oil cake.

i was shopping at target last week and was suddenly reminded of the cake when i spied a few bottles of really nice olive oil on a crazy, unbelievable clearance. i’m incapable of passing up a good deal, and as soon as i placed the bottles in my cart, i knew the olive oil cake was in my future. it was my destiny.

of course, when i got home i couldn’t find that particular issue of Saveur anywhere around the house. i’m notorious for misplacing things. i’m sure before i left for my trip, i put the magazine in a smart place, thinking “i’ll leave the magazine here, in this incredibly conspicuous location! there’s no way i’ll forget where i put it!”

yup. forgot. classic me.

i checked Saveur’s website, but couldn’t find the recipe in question anywhere. so i turned to the internet, searching for a suitable replacement.

around the same time the great quest for the missing recipe was going down, i’d also been pondering what to do with the pint of kumquats i bought while at trader joe’s in Atlanta. the miniscule sweet-tart citrus fruits had eluded me for at least a week. i had no idea how i wanted to use them.

bet you can guess how this story ends, huh?

yup. i put ’em together. kumquats and olive oil cake. best friends forever. true love.

seriously though, this cake totally surprised me. i really didn’t have high expectations for it, seeing as i was pretty much winging it and hoping for the best.

i decided to candy the kumquats first, and the end result was really more like a kumquat marmalade than candied citrus. i think this was a total happy accident, but in the end it really gave the cake a lot of oopmh.

i also played around with the dry ingredients of the cake, using a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour. i wanted a crumb that was stable but very tender, and not to brag or anything, but i pretty much nailed it.

don’t have kumquats? no biggie, you can substitute any citrus fruit of your liking to make into a faux-marmalade! lemons, oranges, limes, blood oranges…i think any of those fruits would be absolutely delicious here! just make sure you remove all the seeds.

too lazy to make your own marmalade-esque mixture? fine then! go buy some marmalade, i won’t tell anyone. it’ll be our little secret.

don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, regular pastry flour, or any other fancy-schmancy flour around the house? no biggie, this cake will work out just fine with all-purpose flour, just be sure to sift it well.

i made this olive oil cake on a slate gray stormy day, the torrential downpour providing the most perfect background noise for an afternoon baking. as with nearly every other anytime cake i’ve made here, this pairs perfectly with tea on a quiet afternoon. also, i think this cake is a great expression of summer, and would be the perfect ending to a small-plates tapas meal with friends. the tartness of the citrus balances nicely with the fruitiness of the olive oil. this cake is sweetly satisfying without being overly cloying, one of my favorite characteristics of a baked good.

so if you’re looking to something a little different to make, let it be this cake. i mean, it’s delicious and it doesn’t have any butter in it. it’s cake madness, but in the very best kind of way.

kumquat olive oil cake

Yield: two 9-inch round cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

can't find kumquats? don't be


for the candied kumquat marmalade

1/2 pint kumquats, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar

for the cake

candied kumquats
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup good olive oil (a light, fruity olive oil is perfect here)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (regular pastry flour works too, or if you don't have any, just use all-purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon orange liqueur (optional, or use almond extract)

for the pomegranate glaze

1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar


for the candied kumquat marmalade

in a large, tall-sided saucepan, heat the water and sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil.

add the roughly chopped kumquats, and reduce heat to medium-low. simmer for 10 minutes.

pour the mixture into an airtight container and leave the lid off. allow to cool to room temperature.

store in the fridge until ready to use.

for the cake

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray, or butter and flour them to prevent the cake from sticking. set aside.

in a large bowl, combine the candied kumquat marmalade and yogurt.

whisk the sugar into the yogurt mixture until dissolved.

add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated into the mixture before adding the next.

slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until mixture is smooth. set aside.

in a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined and uniform.

pour half the batter into one prepared cake pan, and the remainder into the other pan.

rap the pans against the countertop one or two times to release any air bubbles.

bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans, and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

the cakes will keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

for the glaze

combine the pomegranate juice and orange liqueur in a small bowl. add the confectioners' sugar, and stir with a fork until sugar is dissolved and glaze is smooth and thick.

if the glaze isn't thick enough, add more confectioners' sugar until you reach your desired consistency. if it's too thick, add a little more pomegranate juice.

drizzle the glaze liberally over the cake, and allow to harden for 2 minutes before serving.

candied kumquat recipe adapted from simply recipes
olive oil cake recipe adapted from smitten kitchen

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14 Responses to “kumquat olive oil cake.”

  1. #
    JulieD — June 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Jaclyn, this looks amazing! I love your pictures! I have never made an olive oil cake, I must try it.

  2. #
    brandi — June 3, 2011 at 7:34 am

    The pictures are gorgeous!

    I’ve never had kumquats OR an olive oil cake. I need to change that :)

  3. #
    ErinsFoodFiles — June 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve made Olive Oil Cupcakes. Surprisingly delicious! I bet the kumquats were delicious with this!

  4. #
    leaf (the indolent cook) — June 7, 2011 at 5:14 am

    What a truly gorgeous cake! So, so pretty. And I love the flavours too!

  5. #
    jaclyn — June 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    thank you so much! it was truly delicious!

  6. #
    jaclyn — June 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    yum! i think i’m obsessed with incorporating olive oil into desserts and also mad about kumquats! i need a kumquat tree!

  7. #
    jaclyn — June 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    you should definitely remedy that quickly! i am totally obsessed with olive oil desserts now, and i want to get a kumquat tree!

  8. #
    jaclyn — June 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    thanks, Julie! you’re too sweet! you should definitely make an olive oil cake, i think it would be delicious with any type of citrus or nuts incorporated throughout the cake!

  9. #
    J A Haith — June 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    My cousin Ruprecht steered me to your blog since I like to eat food too. I am anxious to try your olive oil cake with kumquats. Unfortunately we cannot get kumquats in Wyoming as they are considered hazardous to livestock. I wonder if one could use jellied prickley pear cactus fruit. My uncle Rufus once remarked that my prickley pear jelly tasted a lot like the kumquat pancakes he used to get in the navy. Anyway I’d sure like to try your receipt.

  10. #
    jaclyn — June 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    thanks so much for your great comment! i’d love to hear how the prickly pear worked with the olive oil cake! i’ve only used prickly pear in cocktails before, so i’d be interested to actually eat it!

  11. #
    J A Haith — June 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Hello Down There, Jaclyn,
    Well, we tried the olive oil cake with the prickley pear instead of the unavailable kumquats and it came out pretty good. The prickley pear jelly is a little thick so I added a cup of water and a little white wine to a cup of jelly and heated it in a double boiler until it loosened up a little. After that it was smooth sailing until the bear came out of the woods and went after the sheep. (We are at a sheep camp in the Bighorn Mtns.) Orville got the bear with a clean head shot and since it was a male we are wondering about fixing up some sweetbreads. It would make a change from the lamb variety. What do you think about that? Oh, and Orville thanks you for the great recipe too.
    cheers, JA

  12. #
    Mendler — August 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further post thank you once again.


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