Kid-friendly Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Recipe: Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by manuel chacon/
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
12 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Our Salty "Amalfi" (Ah-MAL-fee) Lemon Olive Oil Cake is inspired by Italy's stunning Amalfi coast. The region is known for its beautiful seaside towns and agricultural bounty, particularly lemon groves and olive orchards! And so much good food has come of that! 

Olive oil cake is a popular dish throughout the Mediterranean region: Spain, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, and Greece—really, just about any place where olives grow in abundance has its own version. Olive oil cake is treated as a dessert in Italy and France, whereas in Spain and Morocco, you might enjoy a slice for breakfast! 

While some olive oil cake recipes call for blending the oil with yogurt or butter, our Salty "Amalfi" Lemon Olive Oil Cake is not one of them. Instead, we go all-in on the olive oil. The result is a cake that's fully vegan, lower in saturated fat, and has a lovely, textured crumb. The absence of butter also means there will be no mad dash to the store to purchase butter when you realize you're all out of it. Plus, there's no waiting for butter to get to room temperature and no creaming of butter. In fact, there's no need to use an electric mixer at all because mixing the batter by hand is a piece of cake! See why we love it? You will, too!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • bake :

    to cook food with dry heat, as in an oven.

  • cake decorating :

    to apply frosting and other decorative foods to a cake to keep in moisture, add flavor and sweetness, and make it more attractive.

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • sift :

    to pass a dry ingredient like flour or sugar through a sieve to make it lighter and more even in texture.

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

  • zest :

    to scrape off the outer colored part of a citrus fruit's rind (skin or peel) using a metal tool with small sharp blades, such as a zester, microplane, or the small holes of a grater (avoid the "pith," the white, spongy lining of the rind that can be bitter).

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Large mixing bowls (2)
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk


Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • 2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 2 T flax seed + 1/4 C warm water—more info below)**
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C water

Food Allergen Substitutions

Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • Egg: For 2 eggs, substitute 2 T flaxseed + 1/4 C warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.


Salty “Amalfi” Lemon Olive Oil Cake


This Mediterranean cake is often made to celebrate the harvest of olives. By replacing the traditional butter or vegetable oil with olive oil, the resulting cake is a little more dense and rich in olive oil flavor. To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot different from a standard cupcake. This subtle twist on the classic cupcake will make you question why you’ve never tried it this way before.

measure + sift

Start off by measuring the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Combine 2 cups flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda with a whisk to sift out any lumps.

zest + squeeze

Next up, wash, zest, and juice 1 lemon. Make sure to avoid the white part just underneath the peel. This is called pith and it's quite bitter. Place the juice and zest in another large mixing bowl.

measure + crack + mix

Measure and add 2 eggs, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup water to the mixing bowl with the lemon. Combine this mixture with a whisk until smooth.

combine + whisk

Pour the dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl with the wet ingredients. Whisk until super smooth and there are no pockets of flour remaining.

preheat + grease

Preheat your oven to 350 F. While the oven preheats, grease a muffin pan with a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Scoop roughly 1/4 cup of the batter into each well of the muffin pan.

bake + cool

Once the oven is preheated, place the muffin pan in for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cupcakes are risen and no batter is present when you test with a toothpick or butter knife. After removing the cupcakes from the oven, allow them to cool completely before frosting.

recipe note

When cooling cupcakes, they can sometimes deflate slowly like a day-old balloon. If you remove them from the muffin pan and immediately flip them upside down to cool, the cupcakes will keep a dome-like shape.

decorate + enjoy

Once the cupcakes are totally cooled down, frost them with our Outstanding Olive Oil Frosting (see recipe)! Buon appetito!

Surprise Ingredient: Olive Oil!

back to recipe
Photo by masa44/

Hi! I'm Olive Oil!

"My name is Olive and I'm just one type of cooking oil or fat. However, I'm one of the very healthiest you can use! I come from olives, the fruit of the olive tree. Olive oil is often a pretty golden or light green color and has a unique flavor. You would be hard pressed (pressed, get it?) to find a better, tastier oil!"

  • Olive trees have been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean for thousands of years since the 8th millennium BCE (sometime between 8000-7001 BCE.) However, there is fossil evidence of wild olive trees originating millions of years ago and North Africans using the fruit as food and its oil for fuel around 100,000 years ago.
  • The Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil in their cuisines. Archaeological evidence shows that olive oil was made from olives in 6000 BCE. 
  • Olive oil has been a traded agricultural product since at least 2000 BCE.
  • The word "oil" came from a word that referred specifically to olive oil. It came from Middle English, from the Old French "olie," and from the Latin "oleum" (olive oil). The Latin word "olea" in the olive tree's Latin name is translated as either "'olive" or "oil."
  • Olive trees (Olea europaea) are long-lived evergreens with silvery green, leathery, narrow leaves and tiny, off-white flowers followed by fruit. 
  • An olive is a small, bitter oval fruit, green when unripe and black when ripe, used for food and its extracted oil. 
  • The fruit is too bitter to be eaten fresh. The phytochemical "oleuropein" causes the bitterness. To leach the oleuropein from the olives, they must be cured by treating the olives for a few days with lye, which is caustic, or for a few weeks or months with a brine solution before pickling or preserving them in their own oil. Most curing methods also include fermentation.
  • When extracting the oil from the olives, the whole fruit is ground into a paste and then pressed to separate the fruit's oil from its water content. After that, it goes through a filtering process unless sold as unfiltered olive oil, which looks a bit cloudy.
  • Cold pressing is an extraction method that does not use temperatures above 80 F. Olive oil processed by this method retains more of its nutrients and flavor. 
  • Olive oil grades are: Virgin, extracted by mechanical rather than chemical means; Lampante virgin, produced by mechanical means but needing further refinement to be edible—"Lampante'' comes from the Italian word "lampa," meaning "lamp," as it was once used for oil lamps—and can be refined or used for industrial purposes; Refined is olive oil processed to remove defects in taste, odor, or acidity; and Olive Pomace oil, extracted from the olive pulp after the first press with the use of solvents, and then refined and mixed with virgin olive oils. It must be labeled as Olive Pomace Oil.
  • International Olive Council (IOC) standards for quality from the highest to the lowest: Extra Virgin: cold-pressed and the purest oil with an excellent fruity taste and odor and a free acidity of 0.8 percent (amount of fatty acids in 100 grams of oil); Virgin: a reasonably good taste and smell with 2 percent free acidity; and Refined: oil that has been refined using charcoal and other chemicals to remove high acidity and defects affecting taste or smell. Refined olive oils might be labeled Pure or just Olive oil. 
  • The standards of the Agriculture Department of the United States, which is not part of the IOC, include Extra Virgin; Virgin; Refined; Olive Oil, a mixture of Virgin and Refined oils with a good to average taste; and Virgin Olive Oil Not Fit For Human Consumption Without Further Processing, a virgin oil with high acidity and poor flavor and odor. The IOC refers to this as Lampante oil. It cannot be sold and requires refining. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, is used as an ingredient in salad dressings and raw or cold foods, as a dip for bread with garlic or balsamic vinegar, as a finishing condiment, and when cooking with smaller amounts of oil, like sautéing or shallow frying. However, because it is more expensive than virgin and refined olive oils, it is not generally used when more oil is required, such as in deep-fat frying.  
  • Extra virgin olive oil is considered a heart-healthy fat since it consists of primarily unsaturated fats, compared to saturated fats. It also contains polyphenols, antioxidants which help prevent cancer, and vitamins E and K.

History of Olive Oil Cake!

Photo by KseniyaBelova/
  • Olives and olive oil are produced primarily in countries in the Mediterranean basin, like Greece, Italy, and Spain, and olive oil cake probably originated from that area. Each of these countries has its own version of the dessert. 
  • Olive oil was abundant and often cheaper and easier to come by than butter, and olive oil is also much healthier.
  • This rich and moist cake typically consists of flour, olive oil, eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, a dairy product (milk, buttermilk, or yogurt), and flavors like almond, lemon, lime, orange, or rosemary. Enjoy it for a morning or afternoon snack with coffee or tea!

Let's Learn About Italy!

Photo by Marina Andrejchenko/
  • Italy became a unified country in 1861, only 150 years ago. It is sometimes called "bel paese" or "beautiful country."  
  • Italians invented the piano and the thermometer! 
  • In ancient Roman mythology, two twin brothers named Romulus and Remus founded Rome, Italy's capital city. The myth says the twins were abandoned and then discovered by a she-wolf before being found and raised by a shepherd and his wife. Eventually (and after many exciting adventures), they found themselves at the location of Palatine Hill, where Romulus built "Roma." The Italian wolf became Italy's unofficial national animal. 
  • In the 1930s and 40s, Mussolini, Italy's prime minister, and dictator tried to eliminate all foreign words from the Italian language. How did he do that? He just changed them! For example, in soccer, "goal" became "meta." Disney character names changed, too: Donald Duck became "Paperino;" Mickey Mouse became "Topolino;" and Goofy became "Pippo." Although they're not banned anymore, these words and names have stuck. So now if you go to the Italian Disneyland, called Gardaland Park, you will see Topolino and Pippo! 
  • About 60 million people call Italy home, and it is 116,350 square miles, slightly larger than the US state of Arizona. If you compare that to the United Kingdom, 67 million people live there, and it is about 94,350 square miles. So, the UK is smaller than Italy but has a bigger population! 
  • The Italian flag is green, white, and red. These colors represent hope, faith, and charity.
  • The average Italian eats close to 55 pounds of pasta annually. If you think about how light pasta is, that is a considerable amount! There are more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Italy?

  • Kids begin school at 6 years old. They grow up speaking Italian, but they learn English in school, so many become bilingual in Italian and English.
  • The most popular sport for kids is football (soccer). The Italian word for soccer is "calcio," the same word they use for "kick." A favorite of younger kids is "Rody, the bouncing horse," a plastic horse that a small child can hop onto and bounce around the room. Rody was invented in Italy in 1984.  
  • The family ("la famiglia") is a central characteristic of Italian life. Children have great respect for their older relatives. It is traditional to name the first male child after the grandfather and the first female child after the grandmother.
  • If kids live close to school, they can go home and have lunch with their families! Lunch at school might be pasta, meat with vegetables, a sandwich, or a salad with lots of ingredients. Families typically eat dinner later (7 to 8 pm), so kids end up staying up later, too!
  • Between lunch and dinner, kids often enjoy "merenda," which is an afternoon snack that translates to "something that is deserved." It is really a mini-meal that can include both savory and sweet foods. Examples of savory foods are a salami or mortadella sandwich, a slice of rustic bread rubbed with a cut, raw tomato, or "pizza bianca" (white pizza without tomato sauce). Types of sweet foods eaten during merenda are "gelato" (a lower-fat type of ice cream), any kind of cake, or biscotti dipped in warm milk.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the students eat their homework? 

Because the teacher said that it was a piece of cake.

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the lemon say to the cake? 

"Sour you doing?"

The Yolk's On You

Mother: "Where's the olive oil?"

Son: "I drank it."

Mother: "You drank an entire bottle of olive oil?"

Son: "Yes, olive it."

Lettuce Joke Around

If you combine olive oil, basil, pinenuts, and Parmesan, you get pesto. What do you get when you mix olive oil, spinach, and sweet pea?

You get the classic cartoon: Popeye!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the cake go to the doctor? 

Because it was feeling crumby.

That's Berry Funny

What do you give an injured lemon?


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