Passion Fruit Olive Oil Cake - Something New For Dinner
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Passion Fruit Olive Oil Cake

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Easy but takes some time
Passion fruit olive oil cake | Something New for Dinner There is a serious cooking fail behind the development of this recipe. To keep it short, it took me two tries -- the first to get the passion fruit glaze right and the second attempt to get the cake right. On my first attempt, I nailed the passion fruit glaze. It was bright, flavorful, had a great consistency and an awesome aroma. The cake itself was good, but I felt I needed to make a few changes to make the cake a little moister. I increased the olive oil, added a touch more passion fruit puree and cooked it about 5 minutes less than on my first attempt. Passion fruit olive oil cake | Something New for Dinner When I took the cake out of the oven it looked gorgeous. I glazed it, decorated it with edible flowers and covered it with a cake dome to rest. After dinner I brought the cake outside to share with my guests, confident that it would be awesome. My friend Monica took the first bite and pronounced it "delicious." I took a bite and said "hmmm...I taste salt." This was very confusing to me because there is only 1/2 t salt in the cake. I took a second bite, and this time, bam, I was hit even harder with a serious salt hammer.

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The light went off and I knew what I had done wrong. I had grabbed one of two small containers that I had taken on a road trip, one with sugar and one with salt. Obviously, instead of grabbing the sugar container, I grabbed the salt container and gave the top of the cake a serious dousing.
Passion fruit olive oil cake | Something New for Dinner

My cake as it came out of the when I still thought is was sprinkled with sugar

The good news is the underlying cake was moist, fragrant and delicious. It just had an inedible top. So the moral of the story is any one can screw up a recipe. It always makes for a good story and lessons are usually learned. In this case, it was label or at least taste any unlabeled ingredients before you use them.

Inspiration For This Cake

Passion fruit olive oil cake | Something New for Dinner I was inspired to develop a passion fruit olive oil cake after tasting an amazing one made by Melissa of Cucina Melissa, a private chef in Los Angeles. I have an enormous vine full of passion fruit that I was looking for ways to use. Thank you for the inspiration Melissa! This cake is not too sweet, but extremely flavorful. I use a good quality olive oil. If you use an orange flavored olive oil like Stonehouse Blood Orange olive oil it is even better.

Italian Olive Oil Cake Research

While I was not able to find the history behind olive oil cakes, it is clear that they come from southern Italy where the primary fat is olive oil and not butter. I investigated a dozen or more olive oil cake recipes and they are incredibly similar. All contain flour, either almond flour or cornmeal, lots of olive oil, eggs, sugar, some type of alcohol and typically some sort of citrus flavoring. Some recipes include a cup or more of whole milk; others, like mine do not. The cakes are typically coated with a sprinkling of sugar or sliced almonds before baking, or in some cases, finished with sifted powdered sugar after baking. In developing my passion fruit olive oil cake recipe, I loosely followed an Olive Oil Cake recipe, by Claire Saffitz,  published in Bon Appetit in 2017. Thank you Claire for your guidance.

An Important Step to Get the Perfect Olive Oil Cake

Although this cake recipe includes both baking powder and baking soda to help it rise, the methodology of beating the eggs with the sugar for a good 10 minutes is important to help the cake rise and achieve a light-but-toothsome crumb. So don't shortcut the beating of the eggs and sugar. Set a timer and do a thorough job. In developing the recipe I started with 5 minutes of beating the eggs and sugar and then increased it to 10 minutes on my second go around.

Sugared Crust

Instead of greasing the cake pan with butter, you use olive oil and then you dust the pan with granulated sugar. Likewise, before you put the cake in the oven you sprinkle the top with sugar (and hopefully not salt!) This creates a crisp, slightly sweet crust that surrounds the moist cake.

Tools & Ingredients

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  •  Passion Fruit -- If you don't have fresh passion fruit (and hardly anybody does) you can purchase this very good passion fruit puree on Amazon. Freeze any portion you don't use in ice cubes and it will keep for months.
  • 9" spring form pan - I think this is the perfect pan for this cake.
  • Offset spatula -- If you don't own one of these already, treat yourself and buy one. You will be amazed at all the good things you can do with them, from releasing cakes and muffins from their pans, to spreading frosting, to pushing brownie batter into the corner of a baking pan.

More Passion Fruit Recipes

If you love passion fruit like I do, you may be interested in these recipes: You can also eat passion fruit with Greek yogurt like the Aussies do, add it to your oatmeal, or spoon into a seeded papaya half. To learn more about passion fruit check out this post. Print

Passion Fruit Olive Oil Cake

A not-too-sweet, highly flavorful and moist cake with a glorious passion fruit aroma. Gets better a day or two after it is baked. Great for dessert and delightful for breakfast.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
  • Cuisine: Italian, New American



For the cake: 

  • 1 1/2 cups of high quality extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus some for greasing the pan (orange infused olive oil works really well)
  • 1 cup of sugar, divided
  • 2 cups of cake flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (buy it or toast almonds and grind your own)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup passion fruit puree plus 2 more tablespoons
  • Zest from one orange
  • 2 t vanilla extract or paste
  • 3 large eggs

For the glaze:

  • 2/3 cup passion fruit with seeds (or passion fruit puree)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)



For the cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Wipe the bottom and sides of the pan with olive oil. Place the parchment in the bottom of the pan and smooth to remove the bubbles. Sprinkle the bottom and sides of the pan with about 2 T of sugar to coat. This sugar creates a nice crispy crust for your cake. Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl mix the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the Grand Marnier, passion fruit puree and extract. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, 3/4 cup of sugar and orange zest together on high for 10 minutes until the mixture has become thick and pale yellow. 
  5. Using a measuring cup with a pouring spout slowly add 1 1/4 cups olive oil to egg and sugar mixture, beating until fully incorporated. 
  6. Add 1/2 of the flour, baking powder and almond mixture, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add 1/2 of the Grand Marnier and passion fruit mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat, mixing in the second half of the dry ingredients, then the remaining liquid mixture. 
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining 2 T of sugar. You can use a little more if you need to completely cover the top of the cake.
  8. Place the cake in the center of the oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F, or 325 degrees F if you have a convection oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Do not over bake. 
  9. Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a chopstick, poke holes all over the top of the cake. Meanwhile whisk together remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 T passion fruit puree. Slowly drizzle olive oil and passion fruit mixture over the top of the cake and in the holes, allowing the cake to absorb the mixture. Release the edges of the cake by running an offset spatula or knife around the edges of the pan. Release the spring form pan and transfer cake to the rack to cool. 

For the glaze: 

  1. While cake is cooling mix 2/3 cup passion fruit with seeds (or passion fruit puree) with 2/3 cup granulated sugar in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to barely a light boil and reduce the heat to low, simmering for about 10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
  2. Place the cake on your final serving platter or cake stand. Slowly drizzle the glaze over the cake, keeping most of the glaze on the top of the cake, but also allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Decorate with edible flowers. I use passion flowers when I have them, or nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies and violas.


Beating the sugar, eggs and zest together is an important step. Beat for the full 10 minutes to get the best cake texture.

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