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Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake (GF, DF)

45 mins Cook
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This is a delicious rustic olive oil cake that is both dairy and gluten free and is ideal for any gathering as it can be enjoyed by everyone! With a meringue-like crunchy edge and a brownie-like center, this sweet number is incredibly addictive.

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake (GF, DF) - NomNomWow
Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake (GF, DF) – NomNomWow

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

This is actually a lemon-olive oil cake from Charlotte Lee’s adorable cookbook “Just Desserts.” I really liked the hazelnut flavor and wanted to rewrite it so feel free to change the name – I did!

Olive oil is usually the main flavor of the olive oil cake. For this reason, recipes usually also recommend using very good olive oil (which means it’s expensive!). But in this cake, hazelnut is the main flavor and that’s one of the reasons I love it. Taste the strong olive oil on the sweet cake and it will confuse your taste buds a bit. I think it’s “salad dressing”! #SimpleGal

But in this cake, the role of olive oil is to create a moist, rich, brownie-like cake that butter can’t match.

But my favorite part is the skin on the corners, sides and top. It’s a little crunchy-like meringue. I want to cut everything off and run away. Catch Me If You Can!!

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – As mentioned, the great thing about this cake is that, contrary to its name, you don’t need to invest in expensive olive oil. Use a decent quality that you use in your everyday salads. And dairy-free!
  • Hazelnut Flour – these are ground hazelnuts and are more common almond flours used in flourless baked goods such as flourless chocolate cakes, flourless chocolate brownies and orange tarts. is equivalent to hazelnuts.
  • Hazelnut Flour not only replaces flour in cakes, it also adds a nice nutty flavor to cakes. Much more interesting than tasteless flour!!!
  • Lemon Peel – Grate finely using a microplane or similar. It’s a delicious cake, so this is a key ingredient.You can taste the lemon, but it’s the background notes that accentuate the hazelnut. At first, I didn’t understand why a nutty cake like this had lemons in it, but I was forced to make a version without lemon (a fruit bowl filled with lemons without the white skin). had!). The cake tasted less interesting and the hazelnut flavor was more subdued. Takeaway: Don’t skip the lemon!
  • Baking Powder/Baking Soda – Gives the cake some lift, but the inside of the cake doesn’t have the airy, fluffy crumb that flour cakes tend to have. Pretty moist and gooey, like the brownie it was meant to be.
  • can be replaced with baking powder, but it is not very strong and will result in a slightly firmer cake. But definitely not a disaster!
  • Sugar White sugar/white sugar is best because it dissolves easily in butter. However, regular white sugar (granulated sugar) is fine.
  • Eggs – Large, 50-60 g/2 oz each (cartons are usually called “large eggs”), room temperature, not refrigerated.
  • Vanilla Extract – The extract is superior to artificial vanilla extract. Personally, I don’t want to waste expensive vanilla beans on this cake. Vanilla beans are used for creme brulee, flan patissiere (French custard tart), custard (crème anglaise), etc. flavor of other ingredients

What you need to make this Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

Here’s what you need to do to do this:

  • Extra virgin olive oil – As mentioned above, despite the name a really nice thing about this cake is that there’s no need to invest in expensive olive oil for it since it’s not the primary flavour. Just use a decent-quality one that you use for everyday salads. The olive oil brings a moistness to the cake that you don’t get with butter. Plus, it makes it dairy-free!
  • Hazelnut meal – This is ground hazelnuts, the hazelnut equivalent of the more well-known almond meal used in flourless baked treats like Flourless Chocolate Cake, Flourless Chocolate Brownies and Orange Cake. In addition to taking the place of flour in cakes, hazelnut meal brings a wonderful nutty flavour to cakes. So much more interesting than tasteless wheat flour!!!
  • Lemon zest – Finely grated, using a microplane or similar. Being a delicately-flavoured cake, this is key ingredient. You can taste the lemon but it’s more a back note flavour that accentuates the hazelnut. Initially, I was unsure why lemon was included in a nutty cake like this until I was forced to make a version without (I had a fruit bowl filled with white-zestless lemons!). The cake was way less interesting in taste and hazelnut flavour more muted. The takeaway: don’t skip the lemon!
  • Baking soda / bi-carbonate soda – This is what gives the cake a bit of lift, though the inside of the cake will not have an airy, spongey crumb typical of flour cakes. It’s rather moist and gooey like brownies, which is by design. Baking powder can be substituted but because it is not as powerful, the cake will be a little more dense. Not a disaster though by any means!
  • Sugar – Caster sugar / superfine sugar is best because it dissolves more easily in the batter. However, regular white sugar (granulated sugar) will work just fine too.
  • Eggs – Large ones, 50 to 60g / 2 oz each (cartons are usually labelled “large eggs”) at room temperature, not fridge-cold, as cold eggs don’t aerate as well when beaten.
  • Vanilla extract – Extract is better than artificial vanilla essence which is, well, fake. I personally wouldn’t waste pricey vanilla beans on this cake. I reserve vanilla beans for things like Creme Brûlée, Flan Patissiére (French Custard Tart), pouring custard (Creme Anglaise) etc.
  • Pinch of salt – Generally good practice in most sweet things is a sprinkle of salt to bring out the flavour of the other ingredients. It doesn’t make it salty.

How to make Charlotte’s Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

It’s a breeze – and rather forgiving too. Remember, we are not going for Michelin-starred patisserie perfection here. This is a “shabby chic”-vibe cake we’re making here!

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. The hazelnut meal, baking soda, lemon zest and salt.
  2. Beat wet ingredients – Beat the eggs, sugar, and olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes on speed 7 with an electric beater until it changes from yellow to pale yellow, and thickens to the texture of thickened/heavy cream – in unwhipped form (which is thicker than standard pouring cream).
  3. Stir dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake 45 minutes. It will puff up dramatically but don’t get too excited, it collapses again as it cools!
  6. Cool completely in the pan before releasing from the springform pan to serve. This cake is rather delicate to handle when warm so really, be patient and let it cool!

Appearance – The cake will puff up in the oven and deflate as it cools. Don’t worry if you see a “crater” in the middle that settles in. This is how it should be! As you eat, you’ll appreciate the contrast it creates. It has just the right amount of fluffy, crunchy, meringue-like sides and rich, fudgey, brownie-like center of the cake.

If you’re like me and want to double the hazelnut flavor, sprinkle the cake with coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake (GF, DF)

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake (GF, DF)

This is a delicious rustic olive oil cake that is both dairy and gluten free and is ideal for any gathering as it can be enjoyed by everyone! With a meringue-like crunchy edge and a brownie-like center, this sweet number is incredibly addictive.
prep time
15 mins
cooking time
45 mins
total time
60 mins



  • 150g / 5oz hazelnut meal (1 3/4 cups firmly packed) (ground hazelnut, sub almond meal, Note 1)

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate soda , sifted (Note 2)

  • Zest of 1 lemon , finely grated (about 2 teaspoon or so)

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (Note 3)

  • 1 cup caster sugar / superfine sugar (sub ordinary/granulated sugar)

  • 3 large eggs , at room temperature (Note 4)

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts , toasted then roughly chopped (Note 5)

  • Icing sugar / confectioners’ sugar , for dusting

  • Crème fraîche (dollop for company)


Preheat oven to 170°C / 340°F (150°C fan). Grease a 20 cm/8" springform pan with olive oil then line with baking paper (parchment paper), then grease the paper. (Note 6)
Dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix the hazelnut meal, baking soda, lemon and salt.
Beat wet ingredients: In a large bowl, beat the olive oil, eggs and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes on speed 7 of a handheld beater or until it becomes pale and thick (like pouring cream).
Add vanilla and beat on speed 1 for 10 seconds.
Mix in dry: Add the Dry ingredients and mix in gently using a rubber spatula.
Bake 45 minutes: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. It will puff up dramatically in the oven but it collapses as it cools.
Cool: Remove from the oven and allow the cake to fully cool in the pan before releasing from the springform pan. This is a rustic cake that has higher edges and a flatter centre. Perfect proportions, I say: plenty of meringue-like edges and not an overwhelming amount of the rich brownie-like centre of the cake!
Decorate: Sprinkle with hazelnuts and dust with icing sugar, if desired. Serve fully cool.


Hazelnut meal is ground hazelnuts. It’s like almond meal except, well, made using hazelnuts! Find it in the dried fruit and nut section of large grocery stores, and health food stores. Substitute with almond meal. MEASURING (important): Scales are best because the volume of hazelnut meal varies depending on freshness which makes cups quite unreliable. But if you only have cups, then spoon it in and press down really firmly to pack the hazelnut meal to measure out 1 3/4 cups. This cake is quite forgiving so it’s ok if you mis-measure a bit and add too much. But you don’t want to add too little else the cake may not set. Baking powder also works – 1 1/2 teaspoons – but the rising is better with baking soda. Olive oil quality – most olive oil cakes call for really good quality olive oil because you can really taste it. In this cake, it’s much more subtle and is more a background ingredient used for cake moistness. So just use a decent-quality one that you’d use for salad dressings. But no need to use a $50 bottle. Eggs – 50 to 60g / 2 oz each (cartons usually labelled “large eggs”) at room temperature, not fridge-cold (it won’t aerate as well). Toasted hazelnuts – Bake for 10 minutes in at 180°C/350°C (160°C fan) oven, shaking tray once or twice during cooking. Springform pans are best for ease of removal. Otherwise, a cake pan without a loose base will be fine but you’ll need to refrigerate the cake for 1 hour or so (after cooling) so it firms up enough to flip out of the pan without breaking. Greasing the pan is safest to be 100% sure of easy removal. Storage – Cake will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the pantry (though if it’s super-hot where you are it’s safer to keep in the fridge).
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