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A new & improved, easy summer dessert classic, with lemon of course and good quality olive oil, but also lime (for a more complex flavor) and buttermilk (for extra fluffiness and moistness), but you’ll have to work fast because of the reactive chemistry of the mixture but I’ll explain !

As you all know, this is one of the simplest cakes you can make, to provide you with the simplest of pleasures and satisfaction. But like everything, it can be improved.

Here’s what I did to improve this simple pleasure and how it all works together.

The principal ingredient is flour, a total of 1 ¼ cups or 5 x ¼ cup of flour for each of the 5 secondary ingredients, each also measuring ¼ cup, like egg, sugar, citrus juice, olive oil and buttermilk. And then you need the little extras like salt, then baking powder and baking soda, as well as vanilla extract and lots of zests.

Using half fresh lemon juice and zest as well as half fresh lime juice and zest and a good quality Southern European extra virgin olive oil (the kind that has bite and almost stings the back of your throat) will increase the flavor complexity of this simple cake.

I add buttermilk (or kefir or even plain yogurt) in the cake batter, alongside the citrus juices, so that when they are combined with the baking soda and baking powder, a reaction rapidly occurs, like a gentle bubbling, which is why you should only combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients at the last minute, when your baking molds are ready to be filled and your oven is pre-heated. The result is an aerated, fluffy cake that remains spongy yet moist.

The extra garnishes, instead of a simple sprinkling of icing sugar are the glaze, made with icing sugar and lemon and lime juice, which should be added in several coats, for a whiter and thicker effect (since there isn’t much sugar in the cake batter). The additional garnish of lemon curd in the middle and some dried citrus strips of zests, transform these simple cakes into almost pastry-level desserts.

You can make a larger cake but I prefer little individual cakes that can be easily handled, glazed and filled, which is why little cupcake-sized cakes with a hollow in the middle for the filling are better.

You may be wondering where to find these little individual silicone mini-bundt molds. They’re actually used for making home-made donut-shaped soaps. But you can just as easily use a cupcake tin. Just turn the baked cakes over, once baked, scoop out a little hollow in the middle and do the fancy decorating after that. In the end, they’ll look and they’ll taste just as good.

Let's coax & tempt the sun back with some happy summer baking … :)

lemon & lime & olive oil cakes


8 small cakes x 75 grams each


cake batter/dry mixture :

  • 156 grams (1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour (or cake & pastry flour)
  • 2.5 grams (2 tsp) lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2.5 grams (2 tsp) lime zest, finely grated 
  • 2.5 grams (½ tsp) baking soda
  • 1.5 grams (½ tsp) baking powder (double-action)
  • 1.25 grams (¼ tsp) fine sea salt

cake batter/liquid mixture :

  • 55-60 grams (¼ cup) egg (1 large egg)
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 2.5 ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
  • 55 grams (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) buttermilk, kefir or fermented milk (or use plain yogurt mixed with ¼ tsp lemon juice, mix and leave for 30 minutes to clot a little)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fresh lemon & lime juice

glaze (multi-layered) :

  • 120 grams (1 cup) icing sugar
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon & lime juice

decorative filling & topping :

  • 80 grams (8 tsp) lemon curd/cream (or use citrus marmalade)
  • 2 grams (1 ½ tsp) lemon & lime zest, thinly sliced & dried out


  • grate the zests of the lemon & limes finely for the cake batter and set aside and also grate some of the zest into thin strips for the decorative garnish and set aside (to dry out) and then squeeze the juice from the lemon & limes and set aside for the cake batter and for the glaze
  • *note: I used 1 very large lemon (200 grams) and 2 small limes (75 grams each) to get 60 ml (¼ cup) of lemon juice for the cake batter and 2 tbsp of juice for the icing and 4 tsp of finely grated zest for the cake batter and 1 tsp of thinly sliced zest for the final decoration ...
  • mix together the dry ingredients and set aside
  • grease and flour your mini-bundt molds (I used 8 small individual silicone molds which can hold about 75 ml (or ¼ cup + 1 tsp) which I filled ¾ full with 60 ml or ¼ cup of cake batter each
  • *note: the amount of ingredients in this recipe is for only 2 cups of cake batter in total and you could use a cupcake tin if you don't have mini bundt molds, but for a large cake you would need to triple or quadruple the amounts of ingredients in this recipe and double or triple the baking time ...
  • preheat the oven to 180°C
  • whisk the egg with the sugar for a few minutes until very frothy, whisk in the vanilla and olive oil, then the juice of the lemon and limes and then the buttermilk and mix well until smooth
  • add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and quickly mix and quickly spoon into your molds (because the acidity of the buttermilk and citrus juices react quickly with the baking powder and baking soda)
  • bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack (for small cupcakes or bundt cakes) 
  • prepare the icing by mixing the icing sugar and lemon & lime juice well
  • remove the cakes from the oven, let cool, unmold and when completely cool, add the glaze by dipping them upside down into a cup filled with the glaze and wait a few minutes before dipping the cakes a second and a third time for a thicker, whiter icing and wait a few hours (or overnight) before garnishing
  • once the icing is completely dry, fill the hollow of the cakes using a piping bag with 10 grams (1 tsp) of lemon curd (or marmalade) and decorate with thin strips of lemon and lime zest 
  • *note: to fill the hollows of the cakes, if you don't have mini-bundt molds with hollows in the middle, use a cupcake tin, turn the baked cupcakes upside down, use a small spoon to create a hollow in the middle and glaze the cupcakes upside down and once the glazing is completely dry, then fill each cupcake with 1 tsp of lemon/lemon curd or marmalade ...