Meet Orange and Olive Oil Cake: The easiest cake to bake

orangeI first made this simple cake using pantry staples of orange juice and light olive oil after researching a new book on the history of American cake. The popular California olive oil cakes have roots in Italy, and they have been baked by pastry chefs and home cooks in California and elsewhere for the past decade. Their success lies not only in the fact they use up locally produced olive oil, but also in how magnificent these cakes turn out.

Olive oil is a natural emulsifier, uniting the ingredients in the cake and creating a cake that is both moist and rises high in the pan. Who would have known?

I could not wait to try the combination of olive oil and orange juice with my Simply Yellow cake mix. And the first try was a success. All you need to add to my mix are eggs, carton orange juice, a little grated orange or lemon zest if you have it, and light olive oil. Don’t use your precious green-gold extra virgin oil – save that for salads – and instead buy light olive oil with a pale gold color and no flavor. It is best for baking cakes.

Bake this cake in a springform pan, glaze it with orange juice whisked with powdered sugar, or bake it in cupcakes, a sheet cake, or even two 8-inch layers. For that layer cake, frost with a simple buttercream that has been seasoned ever so lightly with grated orange zest.

Orange cakes are simple, pure, and delightful. They are the perfect, sweet encore to a meal of grilled fish. They make for an unexpected birthday cake, and they are always easy to pull together from ingredients in your pantry and, of course, a great cake mix.

See the full recipe 

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