Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

I’ve always been intrigued by cakes that use olive oil instead of butter. Some varieties of oil are really strong, would I be able to taste it in the finished cake? What type of oil should I use? Well I’m sorry if this isn’t new to those of you that have been using olive oil in your baking for quite some time, but you can’t taste it and it produces the most delicious, rich, moist chocolate olive oil cake that you can imagine.

This chocolate olive oil cake is made using a recipe from Nigella Lawson, it’s become quite a well known cake from her repertoire and it is the first Nigella Lawson cake I have ever made. I will definitely be trying more of them if this is anything to go by. As Nigella very kindly mentions, you want a very light olive oil, there’s no need for extra virgin here, so you can spend the pennies you’ve saved on some good quality cocoa powder and chocolate for this recipe.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

As much as I liked the simplicity of this chocolate olive oil cake, which is completely gluten free, I knew I couldn’t put something this easy on the blog without giving it some kind of patisserie twist. Hence the dark chocolate cremeux and the orange creme au beurre. However if you don’t want to make all the toppings this tastes really delicious on it’s own and if you served it still warm with some cream or ice-cream like Nigella recommends it would be a delicious way to round off a meal.

If you’re not familiar with a cremeux, it’s basically a ganache with a custard base instead of a cream base and some butter added at the end. It’s a lighter version of ganache and feels a bit softer and more dessert-like. I used Valrhona caraibe 66% chocolate to make the cremeux, it’s a lovely dark chocolate, but it’s still sweet enough not to overpower the cake or the orange creme au beurre.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

I chose the orange creme au beurre because I wanted a contrast of colours, but I also wanted the flavours to be complimentary. Chocolate and orange are a perfect marriage of flavours and a french buttercream is much lighter than a traditional buttercream and much less sweet than an Italian meringue buttercream.

They’re both very easy to make and they can be made a bit in advance, so if you wanted to make this cake for a celebration, you wouldn’t have to make everything in one go. I didn’t actually add any food colour to my orange buttercream, the juice and the eggs I used had bright enough yolks that it naturally went this gorgeous shade.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

The final decoration I made for the cake was my own homemade candied peel. This is a bit of a fiddly task, you need to peel the rind from the oranges (navel oranges are best), I was bought this amazing apostrophe tool from Alessi as a christmas gift, it does all the hard work for you. The rind is then boiled in water for 2 minutes, blanched and then boiled and blanched twice more to take out the bitterness and lock in the bright orange colour.

The final stage is to boil the orange peel quarters for 2 hours in a sugar and vanilla syrup, when they are cooled the candied peel or confit orange (to give it its posh name), can be used. You can cut it into strips and dunk it in tempered chocolate for a snack, cover it in granulated sugar and dry it for crystallised orange or chopped into little bits for candied peel. I used the remainder of the confit orange to add to my homemade mincemeat and it was delicious.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from Nigella Lawson & William Curley
Nigella's classic chocolate olive oil cake has been given a bit of decoration with an orange creme au beurre and a chocolate cremeux from William Curley's book Patisserie. This is all very simple to make and it's all gluten free.
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Cake
Servings 10


  • ***Chocolate Olive Oil Cake***
  • 150 ml Olive Oil plus more for greasing
  • 50 g Cocoa Powder sifted
  • 125 ml Boiling Water
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 150 g Ground Almonds
  • ½ Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • ***Dark Chocolate Cremeux***
  • 125 g Dark Chocolate 66% cocoa chopped
  • 55 ml Milk
  • 125 ml Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 45 g Egg Yolks
  • 12 g Unsalted Butter cubed
  • ***Orange Creme au Beurre***
  • 50 g Caster Sugar
  • 15 ml Water
  • 30 g Egg Yolks
  • 110 g Unsalted Butter softened and cubed
  • Juice of 1 orange


  • Preheat your oven to 170°C/150C Fan/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch loose bottom tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
  • Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  • In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
  • Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
  • Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond mixture.
  • Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely.
  • Next make the dark chocolate cremeux put the chocolate in a bowl, mix the milk, cream and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring it to the boil.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light in colour.
  • Add half the boiling liquid to the egg mixture, whisk until smooth and then add the egg mixture to the pan. Over a low heat stir the mixture until it reaches 84C and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Take the pan off the heat and strain through a fine sieve into the bowl of chocolate. Mix until smooth and then gradually add the butter until melted and smooth. Leave to semi-set for at least 30 mins at room temperature.
  • Next make the creme au beurre, put the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil and heat to 121C.
  • Put the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk, slowly pour the hot syrup into the eggs and whisk until it is thick and cool.
  • Gradually add the softened butter while still whisking, When all of the butter has been added, add the orange juice and beat until light and fluffy.
  • When the chocolate olive oil cake has cooled, put the creme au beurre in a piping bag with a french tip fitted, place the chocolate cremeux in a piping bag with a straight nozzle fitted. Decorate the top of the cake with any pattern of your choice. I also added some candied peel to decorate the outer edges of the cake.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

If, like me you are a bit uneducated about the world of olive oil, the people at Jamie’s Italian have put together this visual below to help you decide which is the best variety of olive oil for the food you are making.

JamieFrom Visually.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes PerfectChocolate Olive Oil Cake | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Have you made olive oil cakes before? Or baked with any other interesting oils? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.


The graphic included in this post was provided by Jamie's Italian and this is a sponsored post.

22 Responses

  1. choclette

    I’m a big fan of Nigella’s bakes. I’ve not yet made one I’ve been unhappy with. I’ve never tried this one though. Love the way you’ve decorated it.

  2. Amy Stafford

    This cake is incredible looking. Real art, and topping it with your own candied orange just takes it over the top to amazing!

  3. Platter Talk

    I love chocolate and orange together! This really looks so moist and tasty that anyone who likes chocolate would have to fall caloric grace for a slice of this!

  4. maxilynnryan

    As soon as I saw this I knew I had to click on it! I love to use olive oils in breads, so I immediately knew that this cake would be fantastic. I can’t get over how you didn’t need to use any food coloring to get that beautiful orange color!

    • patisseriemakesperfect

      Thanks so much, I know the egg yolks were amazing, I was so impressed by the colour of the buttercream too. This cake is really easy to make and so tasty, you’ll love it.

  5. sibel

    This is exactly what I want to be eating right now!Looks amazing,thank you for the post!!!

  6. Hannah Hossack-Lodge (Domestic Gothess)

    This looks lovely, your decorations are beautiful, what a great way to dress up a simple cake! 🙂 I’ve used olive oil in baking before, it works really well, I went for quite a peppery one which gave a nice hint of warmth without being too in your face.

    • patisseriemakesperfect

      Thanks so much Hannah – this tastes great and it was really fun to make, I couldn’t decide whether to do a really neat pattern or just pipe blobs at random. Needless to say I went with the latter! The peppery olive oil sounds like a great idea. I bet that would work well with strawberries.

  7. Jodie Dodd

    The colors are gorgeous, the orange really pops! Looks very rich too. I’ve never heard of using oil in a cake before but my daughter would love it. I’m very picky about tasting oils in food, if I can smell or taste too much of it my stomach gets upset. Good to hear that it wasn’t overpowering. 🙂

    • patisseriemakesperfect

      Jodie I completely agree about tasting oils, but carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and it has oil in it, so I should’ve know I would like this. Your daughter should make you this, it’s like a really grown up brownie!

      • Jodie Dodd

        I’m going to ask her to make it for Christmas! I just have to figure out how to convert the recipe. We use measuring cups for everything, I don’t have a scale.

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