Citrus and Calabrian Chili Olive Oil Cake

From Christian Reynoso

Formerly with Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA

olive oil cake with orange slices


Serves 8

  • 2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup Corto® TRULY® 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3-4 slices of orange, cut very thin and halved
  • 1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 cup sweetened whipped cream or ½ cup creme fraiche, sweetened with sugar
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds


This might just be the traditional olive oil cake’s cousin that is not really spicy (despite its name). Instead it offers the warming flavor of Calabrian chili peppers with the same rich, absolutely moist, sweet flavor we expect. After the cake is done baking, it gets glazed with a simple orange syrup. It’s finished with a big dollop of whipped cream (or sweetened sour cream) and crunchy-tart-sweet pomegranate seeds. You could serve this at a party or just keep it to yourself as an all-day snacking cake.


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Line a 9×5-in loaf pan with parchment paper so the paper has enough overhang on each of the longer sides (like wings!) so you’re able to easily lift the cake out after baking.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

In a large bowl, add the eggs and 1¼ cup of the sugar, then whisk until sugar is dissolved (it will look a bit frothy). Next, whisk in the oils, orange liqueur, lemon zest, orange zest and 1/4 cup of the orange juice until the mixture is emulsified. Gradually add the dry ingredients, whisking well to combine and get rid of any pestering flour pockets after each addition. The batter should be thick, but fall easily from your whisk.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, then place as many of the orange slices as you like on top to garnish. Sprinkle with crushed chili flakes and bake until the top of the cake is a dark orange- brown, has risen about 1 inch above the pan, and a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (about 60-70 minutes). When cake is finished, take it out of the oven and use parchment paper to gently remove it from the pan. Set to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make the orange glaze. Whisk the remaining ¼ cup sugar with the remaining ¼ cup orange juice in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.

When ready to serve, transfer the cake to a cutting board and brush it all over with the glaze. Then, slice into 1-inch thick slices. Place the slices on plates, brush with more of the glaze, add a dollop of whipped cream (or creme fraiche), sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and finish with a drizzle of Corto® Agrumato-Method Calabrian Chili Olive Oil.