Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake with Orange

April 20, 2009(updated on January 16, 2023)

Each time I find myself wanting to post a recipe here that is not jar-related, I tie myself up in knots for a moment, worrying that it is unseemly to break out from the blogging rubric I’ve set up for myself.  Then I remind myself that this is my blog and I can do with it what I want. Besides, there are times when all you want a simple little loaf cake to go along side those jams and marmalades. And for those moments, this is a near-perfect treat.

I baked this one up on Sunday morning, intentionally splitting the batter unevenly between two half-sized glass loaf pans. The larger was destined for a friend who had a baby just three weeks ago and the smaller one stayed home. Una (the new mama) is the type of person I’ve always admired. She is so good about taking time for herself, even if it’s only a few moments, and, for as long as I’ve known her, has often done so in the afternoons with a slice of something sweet and a cup of coffee with milk. Goodness knows that this new baby will ruffle her previous patterns, but I felt like it was the least I could do to take her a treat that would allow her that recall those afternoon moments of calm.

The smaller loaf, the one that stayed home, was eaten up in short order as well. I left Scott alone at home with it while I was visiting Una, and when I returned, a big hunk was missing. We whittled it down to the final slice you see above before I realized I wanted to grab a picture. We split that last piece just before turning out the lights and heading to bed.

It’s a good, simple little cake that I adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe. I’ve dialed down the sugar a bit, wanting to ensure that it wouldn’t be cloying with the addition of jam and swapped out her lime zest for orange (I had two oranges and no limes on a Sunday morning, so I made do). I also used a bit less oil than she called for, because my yogurt was unusually runny and I didn’t want the batter to be too loose.

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Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake with Orange


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 orange zested
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • scant 1/2 cup of olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lube one large loaf pan or two small ones with butter or your favorite cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a regular old bowl if no mixer lives in your kitchen), rub the sugar and zest together until combined and fragrant. Add the yogurt, eggs, extract and olive oil and combine on low and then medium speed.
  • Add the dry ingredients and combine.
  • Pour into loaf pan(s) and bake for approximately 50 minutes. Use a toothpick or cake tester to determine whether the cake is cooked all the way through. Don’t worry if the top darkens, it adds a delicious crunch to the cake.


Adapted from a recipe by Doris Greenspan that was posted on Serious Eats

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13 thoughts on "Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake with Orange"

  • This sounds delicious. I wonder if Greek yogurt would make a difference? I just found you today from Joy Manning’s blog and am wondering where you’ve been all my life. Great blog!

    Min, I think using Greek yogurt would be fine, although you might want to thin it down with a little milk. My only feeling about using Greek yogurt is that it’s so good eaten on its own that it might be sort of a shame to bury it in this cake. However, if it’s the only thing you had around the house, it would be a-okay. -Marisa

  • Okay, I just want to say that it’s cruel to show a picture with one piece left in the pan. One piece! It makes me want to reach over and nab it. As long as you’re talking yogurt, have you ever tried making it yourself? I’d like to try — my grandmother always had a bowl of homemade yogurt in her fridge. I know very little about it, however.

    Tenaya, I have made homemade yogurt in the past. I have a quart-sized yogurt maker that does a really nice job, especially if set up just before bedtime and left to do its thing overnight. The process is this: gently heat yogurt until just under boiling (little bubbles are okay, but not a rolling boil). Remove it from the heat and let it cool down to around 100 degrees (an instant read thermometer is really good for this). Once it has cooled, stir in a few spoonfuls of your favorite yogurt and pour into the yogurt maker for 4-10 hours. The longer you let it go, the tarter it will be. If you don’t have a yogurt maker, you can do it in a gas oven (the pilot light will keep the oven warm enough to turn the milk into yogurt). I once tried using a crock pot, but it was too hot and I ended up making cheese instead of yogurt. A cool outcome, but not exactly what I was going for. -Marisa

  • Nice modifications to the original recipe. I strongly prefer orange to lemon in this kind of an olive oily baked good. I’m tempted to make it right now. Yum.

    Glad you like it, Joy. Seriously, give in to the temptation and make it. -Marisa

  • i’ve been searching for a good orange olive oil loaf…looks like i finally found it! maybe today will be the day.

  • I love how you’ve modified this recipe & I’m eager to try out this version. I have a question though: I don’t at all get whole wheat pastry flour where I live. Is there any way to make my own WWPF? I know that it’s possible to make all-purpose cake flour by adding two tablespoons of cornstarch to each cup of APF. Do you have any idea if the same technique would work with whole-wheat flour?

    1. Whole wheat pastry flour has a much finer consistency than regular whole wheat flour does. I’d use half whole wheat and half all-purpose if you can’t get the pastry flour. Using all whole wheat would lead to a very dense finished product.

  • I know this is an older one, but I go back to this recipe again and again. It is just so cute, handy, and delicious 🙂