Julia Ostro’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

We asked our upcoming Conscious Curator – the wonderful Julia Busuttil Nishimura – to share the recipes for her signature dishes, and we’re so glad we did. This lemon olive oil cake is simple to make and the perfect balance of fresh and indulgent.


Julia Ostro’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

The secret to this wonderfully simple cake is rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar. The citrus flavour intensifes and permeates through the whole cake, which stands impressively tall. I learned to make this cake in Italy – originally with oranges – using the freshest olive oil, made at the property where I lived. A huge vat of the golden liquid was hidden behind a wall in the kitchen. It poured out through a beautiful brass tap in what seemed like a never-ending supply. The simple quantities of the ingredients for this cake make them easily committed to memory.



finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
300 g caster sugar
3 eggs
300 ml full-cream milk
300 ml extra-virgin olive oil
300 g (2 cups) self-raising flour, plus extra if needed



Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Grease a 20 cm round cake tin with butter and line with baking paper.

In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest and sugar together until the sugar is fragrant and damp. Add the eggs and whisk until pale and thick.

Add the milk, olive oil and lemon juice and whisk well to combine.

Sift the flour into a separate bowl and make a well in the centre.

Slowly pour in the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. The batter should be quite wet – the consistency of a thick pouring cream. If the batter is runnier than that, mix in a little more flour.

Bake for 45–50 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.


This recipe comes from Ostro by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Published by Plum, RRP $44.99, Photography by Armelle Habib

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