Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Zest (Greek island of Crete)

When I was a child, baking this lemon olive oil cake was a family affair.  Back then, there was no grocery store to buy flour, eggs or lemons.  Our land was our supermarket.  My grandfather harvested the wheat to make the flour; the olive oil came from olives picked from the trees in our yard; eggs came from our own free-roaming, herb-eating chickens.  Whenever we needed a lemon, we would walk out the door and pick one.  All of us would gather the sticks, branches and logs for the wood burning oven.  I would help my mom mix the ingredients for the cake and wait with anticipation as it baked in the oven.

Eating often involved more family and friends who were invited over for dinner, followed by a piece of cake served with mountain tea, coffee, wine, or moonshine (raki).  The fresh flavors of all the ingredients, along with loving celebration, created a feeling that could only be described as magical.

Although you may not be picking your own olives or harvesting your wheat, I hope that you too will enjoy magical moments making this traditional olive oil cake and sharing it with your family and friends.

Kali Orexi! (Greek for Bon Appetit!”)



Mediterranean Diet: lemon olive oil cake

Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Zest (Greek island of Crete)

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Calories 5006 kcal


  • 3 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup  extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • confectioner’s sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix flour, baking powder and lemon zest in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl beat olive oil, yogurt and sugar for 10 minutes.
  • Beat egg yolks in a separate small bowl.
  • Add egg yolks to oil mixture, folding in until the mixture is smooth. Add flour and mix well.
  • Brush a 9x9 baking dish with olive oil. Add cake batter and bake for 1 hour.
  • Brush cake with melted butter and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.


Calories: 5006kcalCarbohydrates: 602gProtein: 76gFat: 259gSaturated Fat: 49gPolyunsaturated Fat: 28gMonounsaturated Fat: 171gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1020mgSodium: 1424mgPotassium: 520