citrus loaf cakes spring and summer recipes

lemon olive oil loaf cake

this lemon olive oil loaf cake is moist, sweet, tart, and full of fresh lemon. from the cake, to the simple syrup and glaze, its bursting with tart lemon flavor. enjoy this easy and delicious cake all spring and summer!

spring is finally here! this is such a sweet time of year. the world is waking up and thawing out. there is a freshness in the air. a sense of renewal. these early days of spring yield the beginnings of our favorite late spring and early summer fruits and veggies. the last of winter’s citrus is fading, but one always delicious citrus remains. lemon is the perfect winter to spring and summer citrus. this lemon olive oil loaf cake is simple and bursting with fresh lemon flavor. it’s the perfect cake to welcome spring and the brighter days ahead.

I would describe this loaf cake as

  • moist
  • sweet
  • hint of toasted nuttiness
  • good crumb
  • great mouthfeel
  • tart
  • bright
  • great for snacking!
lemon olive oil loaf cake

short and sweet ingredient list

I love this lemon olive oil loaf cake because its simple and uses pantry staples. here what you need:

do I need any special baking tools?

technically you COULD make this cake by hand. but, your arm will not be happy! for this recipe, I suggest you use:
  • stand mixer with whisk attachment
    • or electric hand mixer with beaters
    • the recipe calls for high speed whisking for 5 minutes. trust me, you want to use one of those to do the mixing!
  • 9X5 aluminum loaf pan
    • this size is recommended
    • other possible pan sizes:
      • 9″ cake pan
      • 9″ spring form
      • 9X9 square
      • 12 ct. muffin tin
    • keep in mind the baking times will vary based on the pan you use
    • the recipe was developed using a 9X5 aluminum loaf pan
  • small or medium sauce pan
    • to make the simple syrup
  • cake tester
    • helps the lemon syrup to soak through more evenly/deeply
    • very inexpensive
  • pastry brush
    • helps distribute the syrup more evenly into the cake
    • optional, as you can pour
  • parchment paper
  • foil
    • this allows the cake to finish baking without the top burning
    • this is not needed if using other pan sizes with faster baking times
  • flexible spatula
    • used to stir in the flour
    • better than low speed on mixers
      • helps prevent over mixing
lemon olive oil loaf cake

best tips and tricks for a delicious lemon olive oil loaf cake

substitutions for the recipe:
  • lemon: use any tart citrus you like or already have!
  • olive oil: this would be an olive oil cake without it!
  • eggs: these provide a lot of the structure for the cake
    • do not sub with flax eggs
    • maybe try a vegan egg substitute
    • but most likely, you’ll need to find another recipe if you need to omit the eggs
  • milk: use any milk you like!
  • all purpose flour: to make this cake GF, I would recommend using a good 1:1 GF flour mix
  • pan sizes: you can use other pans if you don’t have or don’t want to make a loaf cake
    • for 9″ pans, bake 35-45 minutes
      • start checking for doneness around 30 minutes
    • for cupcakes, bake 20-30 minutes
      • start checking for doneness around 18 minutes
tips for this recipe:
  • for the best lemon flavor: you need to use the lemon syrup and glaze
  • add-ins: you can easily add herbs or even fruit to the recipe for your own twist
    • herbs: use rosemary or lavender
      • add in 2-3 teaspoons of finely chopped herbs
      • add in to the sugar at the same time you add the zest
      • the idea is to infuse oils into the sugar
    • fruits: use fresh or frozen
      • stick to about 1 – 1 1/3 c
      • frozen fruits will add on about 5-10 minutes of baking time
        • thaw these for about 15-20 minutes before adding into he recipe (or right when you start to prep)
        • complementary fruits would be: raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
    • extracts:
      • rose water or orange blossom water would be lovely with the lemon and olive oil
      • add 1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp or to taste
lemon olive oil loaf cake
lemon olive oil loaf cake
lemon olive oil loaf cake

other lemon treats to love

lemon olive oil loaf cake

lemon olive oil loaf cake

this lemon olive oil loaf cake is moist, sweet, tart, and full of fresh lemon. from the cake, to the simple syrup and glaze, its bursting with bright lemon flavor. enjoy this easy and delicious cake all spring and summer!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Cooling Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Celebrations, Dessert


  • stand mixer with whisk attachment or electric hand mixer with beaters
  • 9X5 loaf pan, preferrably aluminum
  • medium flexible spatula
  • parchment paper
  • foil
  • small or medium sauce pan
  • small or medium mixing bowls
  • cake tester or small toothpicks
  • pastry brush, optional


lemon olive oil cake

  • 1 3/4 c (210 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (4g) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) salt
  • 1 c (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp (40g) lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) lemon extract
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract, optional
  • 3 (170g) large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 c (177ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 c (79ml) whole milk, room temperature sub with milk of choice

lemon simple syrup

  • 1/3 c (79ml) lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons) freshly squeezed recommended
  • 1/3 c (67g) granulated sugar

lemon glaze

  • 1 c (120g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-4 tbsp leftover lemon syrup or lemon juice


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9X5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2" overhang on the long sides. Set aside.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.
  • Combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon extract, vanilla extract and almond extract in a mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Mix together until the oils release and the sugar resembles wet sand. This takes about 30 seconds with a mixer or 1-2 minutes using a whisk by hand. 
  • Start at a low speed while adding the eggs to the lemon sugar. Increase the speed to high once all the eggs have been added. Whisk lemon sugar and eggs on high for 4-5 minutes, until thick.
  • On medium high speed, slowly stream in olive oil. Beat on high an additional minute. On low speed, stream in milk. Beat on low to fully combine. 
  • By hand, sitr in the dry ingredients to the wet 1/3 at a time unitl just incorporated. Add next 1/3 when about 10% of the flour is still visible, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 
    Dont over mix the batter. Just mix until no visible flour streaks are left.
  • Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. At this time, you will most likely need to add a foil tent to the top of the loaf. The edges will be mostly dont, but the center 1/3 of the cake will need an addtional 10-20 minutes.
    Check the loaf cake every 5 minutes from this point on. The cake is finished when the top is golden brown, slightly domed ( the tent foil will deflate this a bit), with the edges slightly pulled away from the pan. A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
    While the cake is baking (after putting the foil tent on), start the lemon simple syrup:
    Pour the lemon juice and sugar into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat unil the sugar fully dissolves. This takes about 5-10 minutes once the liquid begins to simmer. Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl or cup. The syrup should be warm, but no longer hot by the time you apply it to the cake.
  • Cool cake (in pan) on a cooling rack. After 5-10 minutes, poke lots of holes all over the cake using a cake tester.
    A cake tester is preferred as the holes will be very, very small. If you do not have a cake tester, it is up to you if you want to make larger holes with a toothpick, or allow the simple syrup to soak into the cake without the help of the holes.
  • Pour or brush the lemon syrup onto the still warm cake 10-15 minutes after coming out of the oven. Use as much or as little of the syrup as you like. The lemon syrup will measure about 1/2 c. I used all but 3 tbsp of the syrup (slightly under 1/4 c).
    Allow the cake to cool an addtional 5-10 minutes in the pan (for a total of 20-25 minutes). Using a butter knife, gently loosen the unlined edges from the pan. Gently lift the bread out of the loaf pan using the pieces of parchment overhang. Cool an addtional 30 minutes before topping with the glaze.
  • To make the glaze:
    Whisk the powdered sugar with the remaining lemon syrup or more fresh lemon juice until smooth and well combined. Add more juice or sugar to achieve your preferred consistency.
    Pour 1/2 of the glaze on the cake. Wait about 5 minutes and pour the remaining half on top. Allow 45-60 minutes for the glaze to full set or enjoy while wet.
Keyword lemon cake, lemon loaf cake, olive oil loaf cake
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