Basil-Lemon Cake


Herbs are surprisingly good on sweet treats. Basil has been doing beautiful things in my garden this year. This is why I decided to put it into a cake that I could have with my coffee for breakfast. This olive oil, basil, and lemon cake make a beautiful bite for breakfast or afternoon coffee snacks. Either way, it’s a win. A significant advantage of having cake for breakfast is that you make it the night before and are all set. There is nothing wrong with having dessert for breakfast in my book.

Basil has a wonderful aroma and delicate sweetness that I love. I can’t have enough of it on my salads, pasta, vinaigrettes, sauces, pesto, and even sweet treats like this cake. Olive oil makes this cake very moist, and it gives a beautiful richness that is better than butter in this recipe. Then you have lemon to brighten everything up. When you think of these flavors, you might think about making the perfect savory dish. I promise that you will be surprised at how beautiful they come together for a cake as well.


  • (You will need a 9″ round pan greased with butter & flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons powder sugar (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350F. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, start on low and increase to medium after a minute or so; whip for about 5 minutes until the mix is thick and pale. Scrape down the sides, with the mixer on low, start adding the olive oil in a thin stream, whip until well combined. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest using a wire whisk. Add 1 third of the dry ingredients into the mixer and beat on low until combined. Add half of the milk, add another third of the flour, continue mixing and adding milk and flour until everything is well combined. With a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the lemon juice and chopped basil.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, tap a couple of times on the counter to let the air bubbles out. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, invert onto a serving plate, and before serving, sprinkle with powder sugar if desired. Enjoy!

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