lemon olive oil coconut cake


When i read the title of this cake, my immediate reaction was something like this: omg i love all of that those things they  can only be better together.

Turns out, after making the cake a few times, that  I’m far more instinctual than I give myself credit for.

This cake is good. Really good. Like, you’ll keep going back for just a leeeetle more until suddenly you realize all those “slivers” you were “just nibbling” on added up to half the damn cake. But it could be worse – while it’s certainly not low in fat or calories, this cake is decently healthy compared to many others, especially those pre-made crappy grocery store cakes that don’t even taste good and are full of hydrogenated-artery-clogging goo.

Speaking of arteries and goo and health-related matters, I actually got the inspiration for this recipe from an article of People Magazine while sitting in a doctors office for a sinus infection (see – even good things come of sinus infections!) The blurb included a mini-interview and recipe from Kristen Kish, the most recent winner of  Top Chef. An avid watcher of Top Chef, I was on team-Kristen since day one, and was super excited when, despite the obstacle of getting wrongly eliminated too early, earning a spot back in the finals and being crowned the winner. I always really liked her – she just seems so cool and laidback, with a bad ass edginess. This cake kind of reflects her whole disposition –  it’s  unassuming but it kicks ass.  Its fluffy and flavorful in a bold, yet unique way. It makes me wanna be Kristen even more than I already do.

I did extensive googling but couldn’t find the recipe on the interwebs. Momentarily discouraged, I applied my savvy googling elsewhere: I began looking at similar recipes on epicurious and other blogs and came up with this little ditty which combines several.

Today I’m bringing this to my lovely sister’s bridal shower. Joining the cake will be freshly whipped heavy-whipping cream and some sliced berries. But this cake can stand alone, too, for breakfast , snack, or dessert.


Kristin, I hope this does you justice. Also we should chill sometime.

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of two or three lemons (depending on how lemon-y you like things)
  • juice of two lemons (you can use the same two lemons you zested lol)
  • 1 1/3 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded coconut flakes (sweetened)



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined. You can even sift it if you’re fancy.
  3. Zest the lemons. This can provide great stress relief if you’re having a rough day. Then slice them in half and juice. To make juicing a little easier, try pressing and rolling them against a counter top.
  4. In another large mixing bowl, mix olive oil and sugar. Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
  5. Whisk eggs and add to olive oil mix.
  6. Add olive oil egg/mix in two or three parts to the flour mix, folding in with a spatula as you go. Don’t over mix! Be gentle.
  7. Add the milk in 2-3 parts. Mix again.
  8. Fold in coconut shreds.
  9. Pour into two 9×9 pans or one 13×9.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden brown.
  11. Cool (actually important for this baby, the flavors need to mellow and marry)


*A rule of thumb for cake and cupcake baking: 

If you know me, it should come as no surprise that I basically NEVER remember to set a kitchen timer or look at the time I put baked goods in the oven. Like ever. But in the grand scheme of things I forget (like my keys…for the tenth time…) this is a relatively minor problem. I’ve learned through experience that once you can smell the cake and its flavor waifing into your nose and dancing on your olfactory receptors and triggering all those sensory experiences in your brain – that is when your cake is nearly done.

In short: when it smells good, go check on it. It’s probably ready to come out of the oven.

Enjoy! Happy Monday. And if you’re having a rough day, please look at this photo of my dog after she took my purse off my doorknob and somehow got it around her neck:


8 thoughts on “lemon olive oil coconut cake

  1. I have to start by saying I found this recipe because I wanted cake, but all I had was lemons, coconut and olive oil. Then, I started reading, and I laughed. A lot. And I was having a bad day, and the dog cheered me up, as zesting the lemons worked out some stress.

    this cake? IS AMAZING. I made a lemon caramel frosting (lemon juice from the 3rd lemon, because I love lemon, sugar- boiled til it started to brown. added olive oil to thin. Poured it out, sprinkled w/coconut.) I will probably shame-eat the entire cake this weekend, sliver by sliver.

    thank you.

    1. wow !! thank you so much for your kind words. i used to blog much more regularly but being a full time student i slowed down i bit. i still write regularly for NYU Spoon magazine but you’re inspiring me to get back to blogging. thanks so much!

  2. I just popped in to say that this turned out to be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever baked…. And very easy too! It took me more time to measure/weigh the ingredients than actually mix them together. Awesome recipe!
    The only thing I did differently was the baking time – I took it out of the oven after about 20 minutes but the inside was still completely unbaked, so I put it back in immediately and continued baking for another 25-30 minutes. By the 50-min mark it had the consistency I imagined it should have – nicely baked inside but still a little bit moist and pretty fluffy too, just like those pics of your cake. Did you actually only bake it for 15 minutes? I was wondering.
    Regardless, like I said before, it tastes AWESOME. Well done. 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      Regarding the baketime – i think I baked it in a shallow 9′ cake pan, but I wrote this recipe almost 2 years ago so I don’t recall exactly what bake time. What kind of pan did you use?
      Either way I’m super happy you enjoyed the recipe and the cake! You’ve been an awesome reminder that this is certainly a recipe I need to re-do and update and perfect with more tweaks and better photos. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m going to work on and test this recipe and let you know about bake time.

      Have a great day and thanks again for stopping by!


      1. Hi again!
        I am sorry it took me so long to get back to you – only 3 years, lol! I was just making this again and I came across the same baking time issue and I remembered I had posted a comment about that. I think I used 2 loaf-cake pans because I remember having loaf-like slices of the thing, so that might be why it took so long. This time I am using one flatter pan, rectangle shape, not sure about the dimensions – might as well be 9X13 inches, we do metric where I am. I have already left it in for 20 minutes, turned off the oven and tried inserting a knife but it’s still way too moist. So now I am baking it again for another 10. I also remember it firming up once it cooled down. Anyway, I am going to take it out of the ove now. Can’t wait to taste it again!

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