Blood Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake

Sometimes, I get really wrapped up in the process of cake development–looking for perfectly creamed butter and sugar, checking for perfect emulsification of eggs, picking the perfect amounts of zest, juice and spice–that time just…evaporates.

You see, recipe development is about more than just baking science. It’s fun time, lost down a rabbit hole of research about ingredients and techniques. It’s relying on my extensive home training as a baker and trusting that the batter in my cake pan–a mere wisp of an idea an hour earlier–is going to bake up beautifully. It’s troubleshooting setbacks and celebrating victories. It’s knowing that I have the skillset to be creative as a baker.

That last part still gets me sometimes.

This Blood Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake took me through all of the emotions. It came together in two bowls, and there were no power tools involved. Just me, my bowls, and a whisk. As it baked, the spiced orange smell evoked childhood memories of the citrus boxes that my aunt used to send from Florida; those oranges and grapefruits were always a delicious highlight of the season.

I really enjoyed working with olive oil for this cake; while I will always prefer creaming method for cakes, the simplicity of this one truly captured me during the development process.

Let’s get into this Blood Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake, shall we? (I know it’s a mouthful, Y’all. ????)

To Make this Cake

First, as with every recipe, proper mise en place is an absolute must. Prepping your ingredients in advance will help you stay incredibly calm during this or any baking process, and it really sets you up for success with this cake.

Start by preheating your oven to a true 325°F. An oven thermometer is extremely helpful to ensure that your oven is at the true temperature. To get the proper result, this (and every) cake really relies on your oven being at the right temperature!

Sift your dry ingredients into a large bowl. Sifting the ingredients helps aerate your flour mixture, which helps with cake rise in this olive oil cake. Because you’re not creaming butter and sugar together, the sifting step is extra important in this cake!

Place your sugar, eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract, blood orange zest (other oranges work just as beautifully!), blood orange juice, and sour cream in a medium bowl.

Not Pictured: Sour Cream

That’s right! This is a two-bowl recipe!

Next, whisk the wet mixture until it is completely combined.

Not this:

In this photo, there are still streaks of egg and unmixed oil that need to be fully incorporated.

But this:

The reason for this is simple: once this wet mixture is added to your dry mixture, you want to stir as little as possible, in order to avoid too much gluten formation. If you still have unincorporated oil and egg when you add your flour, you’ll have to mix a lot more in order to get a fully mixed cake.

That would lead to a chewy cake, and who wants that?

The answer is nobody. Nobody wants chewy cake.

You want this:

Once the batter reaches this consistency, place it into a prepared loaf pan. Put the loaf pan onto a sheet pan that’s covered in parchment and get ready to bake!

(If you’re making the “candied” blood oranges, place them directly on the parchment paper to bake alongside the cake. Everything will finish at the same time.)

The cake is done when an instant read thermometer reads somewhere between 212°F and 215°F. Alternately, your cake is done when a fingerprint indentation springs back completely and a toothpick comes out completely clean. I much prefer the thermometer method though.

Finishing Touches

Let the cake cool in the pan for ten minutes, then remove it from the pan and put it on top of a cooling rack to cool completely.

If you’re using the simple syrup, brush it onto the cake right after removing the cake from the cake pan. The simple syrup isn’t mandatory, and I skipped it when I wanted to serve this as a quick/breakfast bread one morning this past week. It’s honestly a matter of personal preference. If you’re using the simple syrup and the “candied” oranges, brush it over the cake and the oranges at this time to give a stunning effect.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 45 minutes to an hour before cutting. This cake can be served warm (although I would not serve it warm if I added the simple syrup) or after it’s been fully cooled.

I truly enjoy this cake, and I’ve loved the trip down memory lane as I created it. I hope you love it as much as I do!

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Blood Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake

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5 from 1 review

This aromatic, beautiful blood orange cake is spiced with cardamom, an earthy spice that has sweet and spicy notes.  Cara Cara oranges also work beautifully in this wonderful cake.


Units Scale

For the Cake Batter:

  • 192 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 160 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp blood orange zest
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 110 g sour cream (can also use 125 g buttermilk)
  • 1/8” slices of blood orange (optional)

For the Optional Simple Syrup:

  • 67 g granulated sugar
  • 84 g water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice



  1. Preheat oven to 325°.  An oven thermometer is highly recommended, since many ovens run hot or cold.
  2. Place flour, salt, baking soda and cardamom (if using) in a medium-sized bowl.  Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add granulated sugar, eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract, blood orange zest, blood orange juice, and sour cream in a medium bowl. 
  4. Stir wet mixture with a whisk until it is completely combined.  The oil and egg will be the last things to combine.  The mixture should be completely and consistently mixed before moving onto the next step.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Use a rubber spatula to get all of the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture.
  6. Stir the batter with a whisk until only a few lumps remain.  The orange zest will make the batter appear lumpy as well.  Don’t be fooled by this!
  7. Add the batter to a prepared 9” x 5” or 8.5” x 4.5” loaf pan.  Place the loaf pan atop a parchment-lined baking sheet.  If making “candied” oranges, place the oranges directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet, next to the cake pan.
  8. Bake in a 325°F oven for 60-70 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 212°F-215°F.  Alternatively, your cake is done when a fingerprint indent springs back and a toothpick in the center comes out completely clean.
  9. Remove the cake and orange slices from the oven once the cake is complete.
  10. Place the cake pan on top of a cooling rack for ten minutes.  Then, remove the cake from the cake pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.  See below for simple syrup and “candied orange” instructions (if using).
  11. If you are not using simple syrup, this cake can be sliced about an hour after it comes out of the oven and served warm.

If Using Simple Syrup:

  1. After removing the cake from the oven, make the simple syrup.  Begin by adding sugar, water, and salt to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.  
  3. Turn off the heat and add the orange juice.  Stir until dissolved.
  4. Use a pastry brush to brush the simple syrup over the warm cake (and orange slices, if using), immediately after removing the cake from the cake pan.
  5. Allow the cake to cool completely before eating.
  • Author: Shani

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