Lemon Olive Oil Cake

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This vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cake is sweet-yet-tart, rich, zingy, and supremely lemony and is so tender and moist that it practically melts in your mouth. It’s easy to make and requires just 10 ingredients! Serve as a sweet snack or breakfast, or dress it up with the strawberry compote. 
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Cooling 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
5 from 24 votes

I love welcoming spring with a lemony dessert, and this Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cake certainly fits the bill. It’s bursting with a bold and zingy sweet-yet-tart lemony flavor complemented by fruity extra virgin olive oil. And the texture is the best combination of moist and fluffy! 

This cake is easy to make and features everyday ingredients, so now you have no excuse to not make it :) You can serve it plain for an afternoon snack or even breakfast, or spruce it up for a special occasion with the strawberry compote and macerated strawberries (it’s simpler than it sounds!) 

This post is sponsored by ALDI USA. Thank you for supporting the brands who help make my work possible!

lemon olive oil cake on parchment paper with strawberry sauce on top

Why you’ll love this lemon olive oil cake

10 simple everyday ingredients. This cake requires just 10 simple ingredients (10 ingredients even if you make the strawberry topping!). And you can find all of these baking essentials at your local ALDI store at great prices! I always buy organic cane sugar to ensure that it’s vegan, and at ALDI, the organic label does not come with an inflated price tag :)

flatlay of baking ingredients for lemon olive oil cake

Tender, light, and moist. I love using extra virgin olive oil in baking for its fruity yet grassy flavor that lends complex tasting notes, but also because it yields a fantastic texture. Think a soft, buttery, and tender crumb. And unlike cakes made with solid fats like butter, this cake stays super moist and doesn’t harden or dry out. The liquid nature and high fat content of olive oil lock in the moisture!  

Perfect for spring. There’s something special about welcoming spring with a fruity, zesty dessert like this, especially when it features seasonal fruit. This cake features lots of lemons (juice and zest) and a double strawberry topping. I opt for organic strawberries, and at ALDI, that doesn’t break the bank :) 

whole strawberries on wooden cutting board with package of strawberries

Easy and rustic but elegant. This cake needs just 20 minutes of prep time and 35ish minutes in the oven. And it doesn’t require any fancy cake equipment or complicated layers. At the same time, it’s elegant and grown-up, thanks to the rich fruity background notes from the olive oil. If you’re into cakes that are balanced in flavors and not overly sweet, this sweet-yet-tart cake is for you!

Easy to dress up. While this lemon olive oil cake is delightful on its own and perfect for an everyday dessert or afternoon tea, you can easily dress it up for a special occasion, like Mother’s Day. Try the strawberry topping recipe below for a classic strawberry-lemon combo that is bursting with freshness and seasonal flavors. 

woman spooning strawberry sauce onto lemon olive oil cake in romantic food photography scene

How to make this vegan lemon cake

Add the aquafaba (chickpea liquid) to a bowl and whip with a mixer until foamy. 

bowl of aquafaba on marble surface

Combine the extra virgin olive oil and organic cane sugar in a large bowl. 

olive oil and sugar in mixing bowl on marble surface

Mix together the oil and sugar until well combined, then fold in the whipped aquafaba and mix again. 

mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar, and aquafaba and electric mixer

Add in the vegan buttermilk (oat milk + lemon juice), 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix again until well combined. 

mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar, aquafaba, buttermilk and lemon zest and electric mixer

Add in half of the dry ingredients (flour + baking powder + baking soda + salt) and mix on low speed until just combined.

mixing flour into wet ingredients for lemon olive oil cake

Add in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix on low speed, then switch to mixing in by hand. 

mixing second batch of flour into liquid cake batter with electric mixer

The finished batter should be light and airy. Do not overmix! 

light and airy lemon olive oil cake batter

Pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Bake at 350°F/176°C for 35-40 minutes. 

lemon cake batter in lined loaf pan

Allow to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to further cool. 

baked lemon olive oil cake on parchment paper on top of cooling wire rack

How to make the strawberry topping 

The strawberry topping features (1) whole strawberries and (2) a strawberry compote. It’s bright, light, and sweet but not too sweet. It’s optional but a great way to enjoy strawberries as they come into season. 

woman drizzling strawberry sauce onto lemon olive oil cake in romantic food photography scene

Wash 1 pound of strawberries. Hull the strawberries and slice in half (in quarters, if large).

sliced strawberries on wooden cutting board with knife

Combine the strawberries, organic cane sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.

bowl of strawberries with lemon zest and sugar

Toss the strawberries well and keep half in the bowl to macerate. Transfer the other half to a small saucepan to make the strawberry compote.

bowl of strawberries macerating with sugar and lemon zest

Cook the strawberries in the saucepan for 15-20 minutes, until the berries have broken down and the sauce is syrupy. 

two bowls, one with strawberries, one with strawberry compote

Spoon the strawberry compote over the cooled lemon cake and top with the macerated strawberries. Finish with lemon zest. 

Tips for making this vegan lemon olive oil cake 

Fresh lemon juice is essential 

I always recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice in cooking and baking (the flavor from the plastic bottles doesn’t compare). But it’s especially important when lemon is a key ingredient, as in this lemon cake. Plus, you’ll need the zest from the lemons so there’s that. 

At ALDI, you can find 2-pound bags of lemons that are really well-priced so you can always keep lemons on hand for baking and cooking!  

Zest the lemons before juicing them

Just a helpful reminder – zest your lemons first before juicing them! 

Weigh your ingredients, or spoon-and-level the flour 

This recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, but the more important part is to weigh or measure your flour properly. If you follow my recipes and YouTube channel, you know I’m a big advocate of using a kitchen scale for all baking purposes, as it yields the most exact results.

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, do not scoop the flour out of the bag with your measuring cup. Instead, use the spoon and level method. Spoon your flour out of the bag/jar into the measuring cup until almost full, then use a butter knife to level it off. The latter method always leads to over-measuring flour, which can skew the results in baking. In this recipe, it will make the cake less tender and moist.  

Don’t overmix 

When combining dry and wet ingredients, be sure to not overmix! Mix until the batter is just combined and then stop right there! 

I use an electric mixer on low speed (since I already use it for the aquafaba). I find I’m less tempted to over-mix than when using a whisk, which requires more effort.

Add the dry ingredients in two stages 

I add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches to produce the best cake texture. During the first mix, the dry ingredients get coated with the fat, helping to build some structure before inundating it with lots of liquid. During the second mix, the rest of the liquid is added, and it helps in producing a light cake with even rise. 

In contrast, if you were to add the dry ingredients all at once, you’d have to mix the batter more vigorously to get them to incorporate. Vigorously beating a cake batter can lead to a dense texture and less tender fluffiness. 

lemon strawberry cake on parchment paper with flowers

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of olive oil should I use for this cake? 

You want to use extra virgin olive oil, not a pure or regular olive oil. I use Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from ALDI, which is a good quality yet affordable olive oil I like to keep on hand. The flavor will differ slightly depending on the brand and type of oil used. Be sure to use an oil that you enjoy the taste of–something you’d dip bread into or serve on a salad, for instance–as the olive oil is a key ingredient in this cake.  

Can I substitute the aquafaba? 

Aquafaba is one of the primary methods for getting this cake so tender and light without using cake flour, so you won’t get the same results using a different egg substitute. 

How do I serve lemon olive oil cake? 

For an everyday dessert that you can even enjoy for afternoon tea or breakfast, serve the cake plain. To dress it up, try the strawberry topping below (I LOVE lemon and strawberry together). 

Or, you can make a simple lemon glaze instead of the strawberry topping. Just whisk together 1 cup powdered/confectioners sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice until you have a thick yet pourable glaze texture. If you want it to be thinner, add more lemon juice (or a spoon of plant-based milk). 

Or, simply just dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving. 

How do I store this cake? 

If you’re making this cake plain or without the strawberry topping, store this cake in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic on the countertop for 3-5 days.

Making the strawberry topping? You can leave the glazed cake on the countertop for 1 day, but I recommend refrigerating it if your kitchen is very warm (it will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days). If you want to extend the shelf life of this cake, store the strawberry compote and whole strawberries in the fridge, and store the cake separately on the counter. Spoon the strawberry topping on the cake as you slice it. This method keeps the cake freshest.  

lemon olive oil cake on parchment paper with strawberry sauce on top

That’s all you need to know about making this lemon olive oil cake! Head to your local ALDI to stock up on baking essentials and if you try this recipe, leave a rating and review below with your feedback!

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

5 from 24 votes
This vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cake is sweet-yet-tart, rich, zingy, and supremely lemony and is so tender and moist that it practically melts in your mouth. It’s easy to make and requires just 10 ingredients! Serve as a sweet snack or breakfast, or dress it up with the strawberry compote. 
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Cooling 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Baking
Diet Vegan
Keyword: lemon cake, nut-free, soy-free
Serving size: 8 to 10

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large lemons*
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) Friendly Farms Original Oatmilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (112g) Simply Nature Organic Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112g) Simply Nature Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 9×5-inch (23×13 cm) or 8×4-inch (20×10 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper overhang to use as handles.
  • Zest the lemons to get 1 tablespoon of zest. Set aside. You’ll use more zest to finish the cake (and if making the Strawberry Topping).
  • Juice the lemons to get ¼ cup (60 mL) of juice and combine with the oat milk; set aside for 10 minutes to curdle. This is the vegan “buttermilk.”
  • Pour the aquafaba into a medium bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, whip the aquafaba on medium speed for 45-60 seconds, until uniformly foamy. Wipe the bowl out to use again in the next step.
  • To the medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well to ensure the leaveners are well-combined.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and olive oil. Mix using the electric mixer until well combined. Add in the whipped aquafaba and mix again until incorporated. Add the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and vanilla, and mix again until combined.
  • Add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, beating on low speed until well- combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until almost smooth, then switch to a silicone spatula to finish combining. Important: do not overmix to prevent the cake from becoming dense. The finished batter should be light and airy.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top with the spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center top (insert the toothpick at a slight angle) comes out clean and the top is lightly golden. I always check a few minutes before 35 minutes.
  • Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then use the parchment paper handles to lift the cake out of the pan and onto the wire rack and cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If you made the strawberry topping, spoon the strawberry compote over the cooled lemon cake and then top with the macerated strawberries. Finish with some extra lemon zest on top.

Notes

* You might need a third lemon if making the Strawberry Topping, depending on their size and juiciness.

Strawberry Topping

5 from 16 votes
This strawberry topping features (1) whole strawberries and (2) a strawberry compote. It’s bright, light, and sweet but not too sweet. It’s a great way to enjoy strawberries in season!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Baking
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, strawberry sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454g) strawberries, hulled and cut in half (or into quarters if large)
  • 3 ½ tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Cane Sugar
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. Toss well to combine.
  • Transfer half of the strawberries to a small or medium saucepan. Keep the other half and allow them to macerate in the bowl.
  • Cook the strawberries over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the berries break down and the liquid thickens into a syrup. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain a simmer.
  • Turn off the heat, then stir in the lemon juice.

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27 comments on Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  1. Sharada

    Best lemon cake ever!!! So flavorful! <3 Love your all recipes Nisha!

  2. Megan B

    Hi Nisha. Have you (or any of the readers) tried this with a GF “baking blend” flour? Or other GF substitute flours? Thanks!

  3. Lindsey

    This looks like a great recipe! Quick question; can the aquafaba be substituted with a chia or flax egg?

  4. Yelena

    Easy and delicious! Made twice. Once with strawberries and the other time with strawberries and mango because I didn’t have enough strawberries. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Alexa Desautels

    The texture is just perfection. The olive oil tastes really strong in the batter so I was a little worried but it came out tasting mostly like lemon with a hint of olive oil, which was really delicious. 10/10 spring dessert 🤤

  6. Alicia

    OMG. This was so delicious. It was so easy even I could do it. Your instructions are so detailed that is helpful. And you also explain why a step if important. I wish I could give you 7 stars!
    I used gluten free flour. Krusteaz. It wasn’t dense at all. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Alicia

      Oh okay. Replying to myself. LOL. I used grapeseed oil instead of olive oil. I’ll have to try it with olive oil to see what the difference might be.

    2. Jessica

      So excited to see you used GF flour. Would you share what type or brand of GF flour you used?

      1. Jessica

        I just saw the answer to my question in your comment. Please excuse my distracted momma brain. 😜

  7. Sarah

    I absolutely loved this cake. The texture was really nice. Everyone in my family loved it, including 2 toddlers. Don’t skip out on the compote , it really makes it extra special. I think I will add more lemon zest and juice next time though as I thought it could be more lemony for my personal preference.

  8. Jo Ann

    I made this using coconut sugar and absolutely loved it. Thanks so much for sharing.
    I was wondering however if this would work with almond flour?? 😊

  9. Kelly

    Ummm, I just made it today and already ate 3 slices. My 9 year old was practically licking the plate. Delicious & so pretty. Will definitely make this for the family and an extra one just for me…hee hee. Thank you!

  10. Alexandria Morales-Garcia

    Super tasty!!! I loved it as is but my husband didn’t care for the olive oil. I’m going to try it with grapeseed next time. I topped mine with a blueberry compote and an edible flower.

  11. Veruchi

    Amazing receipe! This cake is so soft and has the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness

  12. Cheryl

    Wonderful recipe! I’ve made olive oil cakes in the past but this is the first one I’ve made that is vegan. I used soy milk instead of oat and it came out just fine. I didn’t have any strawberries but, to be honest, this cake is so moist and delicately flavored that I could eat it plain. In fact, I probably could have eaten the whole thing (but I didn’t!) it was so yummy. I can see doubling the recipe and making a layered round cake the compote drizzled over top and some sliced strawberries and vegan whipped cream in between the layers. Another winner, Nisha!

  13. Jim Knox

    Lemon Olive Oil Cake at its best. Vegan buttermilk is a healthier choice too. Must try out this recipe. I will use a homemade butter recipe for this cake making.

  14. Perci

    Can I sub maple syrup for sugar ? Or honey?
    Thanks

  15. Jo

    Hi there
    Can coconut sugar be used instead of instead of can sugar. Thank you and thanks so much for sharing your recipes.
    Jo

    1. Nisha

      Hi Jo, it might affect the texture of the cake a bit and make it darker in color, but it still should work pretty well.

  16. Justine

    Ran out to get the ingredients yesterday evening after work. Found this really easy to make and so flavorful – the lemon flavor really shines through. I’ll be making this again this Spring for sure!

    1. Nisha

      So lovely to hear that, Justine :) I love the lemon flavor here too. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

  17. Patricia

    How do you feel other vegan milks would work in this recipe?

    1. Nisha

      Should work just fine :)

  18. Jeanette

    Looks yummy! Would it be possible to substitute all (or part) of the olive oil with applesauce?

    1. Nisha

      Hi Jeanette, I don’t bake too often with applesauce, so I’m hesitant to say whether it would work out. Applesauce tends to bring some heaviness to baked goods, as it’s quite dense, so if you do try it, I wouldn’t do a 1:1 swap – I’d limit it to half the amount.

  19. Caroline

    I love lemon and this cake is so good, as you said good for desert or breakfast. Easy to prepare and simple ingredients. Thank you

    1. Nisha

      Hi Caroline, so happy to hear that you made this lemon cake and enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing :)

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