Saffron Olive Oil Cake Recipe

This recipe was originally published as part of a menu in Tasting Table National

TT Test Kitchen Tip: A slice of this slightly sweet saffron-flecked cake is ideal for breakfast, dessert or an afternoon snack. Serve alongside coffee or orange pekoe tea to highlight the orange juice and zest additions.

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Saffron-Olive Oil Cake
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Saffron-Olive Oil Cake
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Cake1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Candied Pistachios½ cup whole, shelled unsalted pistachios
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Glaze1¾ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons fresh orange juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter, then add 1 tablespoon flour to the pan, tap out the excess and set aside.
  2. Make the cake: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the saffron with the orange zest and juice. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground pistachios, the remaining 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the olive oil until the egg-sugar mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the reserved orange-saffron mixture and the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 to 1½ hours. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack and cool completely.
  4. While the cake cools, make the candied pistachios: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone mat. In a medium saucepan, combine the whole pistachios, sugar, orange zest, water and sea salt. Set over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the candied pistachios onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Pulverize in a food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside.
  5. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the olive oil cake and sprinkle with candied pistachios. Slice and serve.
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