RECIPE: Basil Olive Oil Cake

Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki’s recipe first appeared in our Greenmarket to Gotham Recipe Journal and has been a hit ever since. With just a touch of lemon buttercream to balance the herbaceous qualities of the cake, it becomes the perfect summertime treat. Give it a try and share your pictures with us on social media using #GothamJournal.

Serves 8


  • Four 4-oz bundles of fresh basil

  • 4 cups water for blanching

  • 2 quart ice bath

  • 1 cup water


Remove the stems from the basil leaves and discard. Bring the water to a boil and blanch the leaves for approximately 20 seconds. With the aid of a colander, separate the leaves from the water and place the leaves in the ice bath. Discard the blanching water. In a blender combine 1 cup of water with the basil leaves, and blend on high for 1 minute. With a fine-meshed strainer, strain the liquid and reserve. Discard any leaf particles that remain in the strainer. Measure 3/4 cup of the liquid and use for the olive oil cake recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup olive oil

  • 3/4 cup basil water

  • 2 eggs


Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate container, combine the olive oil, basil water, and eggs and whisk together. Combine the two mixtures and whisk together by hand until a smooth batter is obtained. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter. Bake at 350? for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.


  • 2 1/4 cups milk

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • Pinch of salt


Heat the milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a scald with approximately half the sugar. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Temper half of the warm milk into the bowl mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour the bowl mixture into the saucepan and continue to heat while whisking, until the mixture is thick. Put pastry cream in a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap in direct contact with the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool.



  • 1 1/4 cups butter

  • Zest of 2 lemons

  • 3 1/4 cup pastry cream


In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and lemon zest; beat until soft and creamy. Add room temperature pastry cream and beat until creamy and uniform.


On a flat surface, trim the olive oil cake to remove the crust or any areas that have browned during the baking process. Cut the cake in half and again through the horizontal; this will leave you with four equal slices. With the aid of an offset spatula, place the mousseline in 1/4-inch layers on three of the slices and stack together. Place the remaining slice on top to crown the cake. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, garnish with fresh raspberries, and serve.