Walnut Cake with Olive Oil

An all-time Mediterranean favorite, this light and tender cake is made with a mild-tasting olive oil rather than butter, and has a lovely nutty, citrus-y flavor. You can use grape seed oil instead of olive oil if you prefer.


  • 1 cup (5 ounces) brown rice flour
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup mild olive oil plus extra for greasing pan (if you prefer you can substitute olive oil for grape seed oil)
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (7 ½ ounces) sugar
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) walnut halves and pieces, finely chopped
  • Confectioners’ sugar


Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the sides of a 9-inch cake pan lightly with olive oil, and line the base with baking parchment. Combine the rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Pour the olive oil into a glass cup measure, and add the rum, orange juice, and orange zest. Using a stand mixture or a hand-held electric beater, beat the eggs to mix well, then slowly add the sugar and beat until very thick and light, about 5 minutes. (A lifted spatula should leave a slowly-dissolving ribbon.) Remove from the stand, if using, pour the olive oil-citrus mixture around the edges of the bowl, and fold in. Sift the flour mixture over the batter, and fold in. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top, and fold in. Transfer the batter to the cake pan, and bake until golden and an inserted toothpick emerges clean, about 30 minutes. (Don’t over bake, as this would make the cake dry.) Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife blade, and turn out onto the rack. Peel off the paper, turn the cake right side up, and let cool completely. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake before serving.

Cook’s Tip: For the best results, have all the cake ingredients at room temperature before you start. The eggs should be fresh: preferably at least three weeks before the “use by” date on the carton. The whites of older eggs don’t stiffen well when beaten.

Baking time: 30 minutes.

(This recipe originally appeared in #2/2012)

Recipe by Jacqueline Mallorca. The author of more than a dozen cookbooks, Jackie Mallorca’s most recent titles include The Wheat-Free Cook and Gluten-Free Italian. For more information, tips and recipes, go to GlutenFreeExpert.com.