Tender Greens’ Citrus Olive Oil cake recipe

With Chinese New Year (February 8th) and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a recipe that would feature both of these events and this weekend’s recipe will do just that! My friend, Judy shared this recipe with me a few years back and it’s a must try. Here in Los Angeles, there’s a cafeteria style restaurant called Tender Greens and Tony’s a regular there. A few years back, they had this light cake called the Citrus Olive Oil Cake. Though I don’t have a sweet tooth, this dessert is a must!

Though this is not a Chinese dessert, I thought it would be appropriate because of what it represents. During the Chinese New Year, it’s tradition to exchange oranges and tangerines. Through the play of words, gifting oranges and tangerines represent having an abundance, happiness and prosperity. And who doesn’t want that? The brighter the orange, the better as the color of the fruit symbolizes ‘gold,’ and has an auspicious meaning to bring good luck and wealth.

You can also make this for your special Valentine with a hand written message that says, “ORANGE you happy to be my Valentine?”
Citris Olive Oil Cake – Perfect for Chinese New Year and even Valentine’s Day
This recipe was featured in the Los Angeles Times and adapted from Pastry Chef Annette Picha. I made mine using mini cupcake tins because I thought it would be cuter. Whether it’s for Chinese New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or just because, I hope you enjoy this recipe.


  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • About 1 1/2 cups (11 ounces) sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • Zest of 2 oranges, or citrus fruits of your choice, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, olive oil and citrus zest. With the mixer running, slowly add to the egg mixture, scraping the bowl down once while mixing to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Over low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, scraping down the bowl once again while mixing to make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased muffin tins, filling each cup about three-fourths of the way full. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes, rotating the muffin tins halfway through baking for even heating.
  6. Cool the cakes completely, then dust lightly with powdered sugar and sprinkle over extra citrus zest before serving.

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