Olive Oil Carrot Cake with Seeds and Orange Zest

From Olive Oil Synergies

Recipe by Marykate McGoldrick of Sesame Tiny Bakery


Cake baked by Mary Tilson, photo by Cheryl Angelina Koehler


The flavors of sweet spring carrots and fruity, peppery, extra-virgin olive oil come together in this versatile cake, which is equally good dressed up with whipped cream for a special dinner or served plain for a low-key snack with coffee or tea. The seeds can be omitted or replaced with chopped toasted nuts, and I love adding ⅓ cup of chopped poached prunes, soaked raisins, or soaked currants for a fruity version. 

Makes one 9-inch cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I like Seka Hills Arbequina)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest (about 1 large orange)
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup spelt flour (or sub in all-purpose flour, if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated carrots (about 2–3 medium-size carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white and black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Grease a 9-inch cake or springform pan with butter and line pan with a circle of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°.

Using a stand mixer, whisk eggs and sugars on medium high until pale and thick, 5 minutes. Mix in the olive oil, vanilla, and grated orange zest until combined. Sift together the flours, leavenings, and spices, and fold into mix. Then fold in grated carrots and seeds until fully incorporated. Pour batter into pan, smooth top, and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool slightly before removing the cake from the pan and let it finish cooling on a rack. Serve plain or with whipped cream. If there’s some left over, it will keep well for a few days wrapped in foil on your kitchen counter.

Marykate McGoldrick’s pocket-sized Sesame Tiny Bakery showcases seasonal fruit and organic ingredients. In 2018, she started a monthly cake club popup at The Kebabery in Oakland, and as of April 2020, that has become a weekly collaboration to offer cookies and cakes for Kebabery customers.

“In the first few months of 2020, I was working on opening my tiny shop under the same roof as the new Kebabery at 2969 Shattuck Avenue. When Covid hit, everything came to a halt, and we all scrambled to figure out how to survive. I count myself lucky to weather these strange times by baking as much as I can. It is one of the few things that keeps me grounded. As I write this, we are just getting back into the new space and resuming construction.” ​