Sign up for our Newsletter

Feel free to substitute your favorite fruit, but red and blue berries make a pretty Fourth of July topping on this moist, popular recipe for olive oil cake. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

A good, memorable recipe can take on a well-journeyed life of its own, tweaked and shared among friends and family for years to come. This light olive oil cake recipe has done just that.

“About 10 years ago, we held our annual fundraiser dinner for the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society, and afterward, people called me and said that cake was the best cake they’d ever had in their life,” recounts lifestyle authority and author Tricia Foley. “I still sometimes go to a dinner party in the area, and the host makes this cake.”

The recipe — now officially archived and beautifully presented in Foley’s tome, Entertaining by the Sea: A Summer Place (Rizzoli) — was inspired by one served at the New York City restaurant Maialino, as chef Marité Acosta explains.

Entertaining by the Sea by Tricia Foley (Photo credit: Marili Forastieri)

“It was one of the desserts offered at Danny Meyer’s restaurant right off of Gramercy Park,” says Acosta, “I only minorly tweaked it.” With her wife and chef Candy Argondizza, the two International Culinary Center members brought in their troops to prepare the fundraiser meal that now graces the pages of Foley’s book. Held on the grounds of Isabella Rossellini’s Mama Farm, the farm-to-table dinner included wine by Channing Daughters and produce from former chef Patty Gentry of Early Girl Farm, who farms two and a half acres of Mama Farm and has a CSA and a Saturday morning market.

“We mowed a path in this field that had gone to seed, and I put ten cafeteria tables down the middle, covered them with a giant roll of burlap, and sprinkled fairy dust on it,” recalls Foley of the simple yet stylish setting she is known for. “Everything was served family style in iron-stone platters and bowls. It was a perfect summer evening.”

The stylish guests requesting the recipe for the last course –  citrus olive oil cake with crème celeste, a perfectly tart and creamy concoction – soon began. “We’ve been serving it with that topping since we first made it,” says Acosta of the elegant finish. “It has tang and just a little alcohol that sits beautifully with the cake.”

As we are in full-on berry season here on the East End, the final addition of sweet strawberries and blackberries can add a Fourth of July festive touch to the cake for those entertaining this week. Want to keep those berries from rolling around? Adding a decorative slathering of cream cheese and mascarpone frosting to the top can anchor your berries and mint leaves on top.

Foley’s collaborative fundraiser dinner for the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society served citrus olive oil cake for dessert. Recipe requests ensued. (Photo credit: Marili Forastieri)

“It’s beautiful with orange segments when berries are not in season,” suggests Acosta, making the recipe year-round friendly and “a good go-to.”

But Foley’s book is about more than sweet treats; it includes entertaining tips that she is happy to share. “When I came up with the idea for this book, I thought of all the friends who loved cooking and entertaining and asked them individually if we could do a story,” says the former magazine editor. “So to balance things, the book features entertaining outdoors, indoors, lunches, teas, dinners, cocktails, so that we had a whole range. It represents what entertaining in Bellport is like.”

*Recipe reprinted from Entertaining by the Sea: A Summer Place, Rizzoli New York by Tricia Foley, photographs by Marili Forastieri. Available to purchase at Book Hampton.

Citrus olive oil cake with créme Celeste and berries

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Serves 12 servings


  • cooking spray for pan
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Mariner, Cointreau or triple sec)
  • créme celeste (recipe below)
  • mixed berries, such as blackberries and blueberries, for finishing

Créme Celeste

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbsp brandy


For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan (at least 2 inches deep) with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In another large bowl, combine the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, and orange liqueur and whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and invert the cake onto the cooling rack. Peel off the parchment, then flip the cake right side up and allow it to cool completely before cutting, about 2 hours.
  • Serve each slice with a dollop of Crème Celeste and berries. 

For the créme Celeste

  • In a small saucepan heat the sugar and cream over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a simmer and the sugar has melted.  
  • Pour the hot mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the sour cream and brandy to combine.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate until very cold to set.