Upside Down Olive (Oil) Cake

Makes one 9” cake

If the idea of eating olives in a dessert scares you….don’t be! Think about it! We all love olive oil cake. Olive oil comes from olives. Castelvetrano olives (the variety called for here) are mellow, mild and buttery, making them a perfect candidate for dessert. I would advise against swapping these out for a more briny olive such as a kalamata, nicoise, or manzanilla as the cake will lean very savory.

Active Time: 20 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr



  • 1 lemon (Meyer or regular)


  • 2 cups Castelvetrano olives (unpitted) plus their brine
  • ¾ cup plus ⅓ cup cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup medium grind cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling


  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • Creme fraiche, mascarpone or whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1. Prep the pan and sugar the olives:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Using a mug or the bottom of a measuring cup, crush 2 cups of Castelvetrano olives in order to remove and discard their pits. In a small bowl combine the crushed olives and ⅓ cup granulated sugar. Toss well to coat.
  • Transfer the sugared olives to a 9” cake pan and spread out evenly.

2. Mix the dry ingredients:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together 1½ cups all purpose flour, ⅓ cup medium grind cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda

3. Mix the wet ingredients:

  • In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together 2 large eggs and ¾ cup sugar until pale yellow and frothy, about 45 seconds.
  • Whisk in ¾ cup buttermilk, 4 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons Castelvetrano olive brine.
  • Gradually whisk in ½ cup olive oil until well combined.

4. Combine and bake:

  • Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones, until homogeneous.
  • Scrape the batter into prepared cake pan. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top is light golden brown and the batter no longer jiggles in the center when lightly shaken, 37-45 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before running a thin knife or spatula around the outside to help release it from the sides of the pan. To invert, place a large plate (larger than the size of the cake pan) on top of the cake. Swiftly and confidently flip the cake over. Place the plate on the countertop and gently tap the cake pan to ensure it releases before lifting the pan up and away from the cake.

5. Serve:

  • Once cool, slice into wedges and serve with creme fraiche, mascarpone, whipped cream, or ice cream (or just eat it plain!!). Drizzle each slice with more extra virgin olive oil.

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