Orange Olive Oil Black Pepper Cake

Orange Olive Oil Black Pepper Cake

Citrus and EVOO

This is one pairing that always attracts equal measure of curiosity and pleasant surprise at our tasting events. In truth, this combo is super versatile. As a simple fresh orange-EVOO salad with a good sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or as a baked goodie like in this recipe feature -  Orange Olive Oil Black Pepper Cake – from our all-time favourite chef-author, the inimitable Ruby Tandoh.

Olive oil matching

Really depends on the type of citrus you’re working with and whether you want to highlight the sweetness or tart-bitter hints of the pith. In our experience, if you want to highlight sweetness, choose a mild fruity EVOO like Arbequina or Leccino which tend to be balanced and smooth without any bold characteristics. Our personal preference when working with citrus is to use a medium fruity green EVOO, with a slightly pronounced bitterness and moderate spiciness which we feel drums up the citrusy qualities well. To do this try Barnea, Koroneiki, Hojiblanca.

In this recipe here however, we recommend a good fresh Italian varietal for its natural peppery depth and medium intensity such as Frantoio, Corregiollo, Nocellara del Belice but not quite so intense as some Coratina. The key is to have a complementary natural peppery depth to bring out the black pepper characteristics of this cake, which is wading in lots of orangey juiciness.

Try Olivo Tuscan Estate for a lovely creamy, soft green fruit aromas with a classic Italian varietal pepperiness. Available in Singapore at Little Farms online and, or pop by Little Farms store at Valley Point, Tanglin Mall and Katong Point.


Recipe credit: Cook As You Are: Recipes for Real Life, Hungry Cooks and Messy Kitchens, by Ruby Tandoh

How to make this:

Makes about 8-10 slices

  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 125g (1/2 cup heaped) caster sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 large oranges
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 175g (1 cup packed) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground coarse black peppercorns (not the powdery kind as it’ll make the cake grey)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • For the syrup – 50ml orange juice from above oranges; 50g (3 tablespoons) caster sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C; line a 900g loaf tin or baking tin with baking paper
  2. Cake batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil, caster sugar, orange zest and stir briskly with a whisk or spatula. Add eggs and beat till well mixed. Add flour, baking powder, pepper and salt. Mix till smooth. Stir in about 50ml of orange juice to loosen batter.
  3. Pour all batter into lined tin and back for about 45 minutes, or check by sticking a metal skewer or small knife into the centre of the cake till it comes out clean. Cake should have risen with a nice brown colour on top. It’s normal for it to crack if using a loaf tin.
  4. Place cake in tin on a cooling rack; pierce a few evenly spaced holes with a small knife (for the syrup to soak in later)
  5. Prepare the syrup by combining the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over lower heat and stir constantly until all sugar is melted and mixture a bubbling a little.
  6. While the cake is still warm, pour syrup all over the cake. Leave to cool for about 1 hour.
  7. Remove from tin and baking paper. Slice to preferred thickness and serve!

To serve:

The original recipe recommends serving with Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche. We like it on its own or with an extra drizzle of delicious green EVOO or orange syrup.

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