This loaf is an absolute delight with a hot cup of tea. A few years ago, the road my parents live on had a street party. There was bunting and music, tables and chairs lined the street and we had plenty of homemade food to go around. I created a teatime loaf for the cake competition that was adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery, judged by the owner of a local café. After lots of taste-testing of dozens of cakes, my orange and almond loaf won the contest with the owner exclaiming that “it would be perfect with a cup of tea”. I’ve since wished I’d rifted on that particular adaptation and refined it a little further, so I’m excited to finally be able to share a new {and rather improved} version of it with you.

What makes this loaf better than the rest?

Rather than using regular butter, I switched in organic Extra Virgin olive oil for a bold and beautiful flavour. This adds a full and fruity aroma to the cake with a slight peppery bitterness that lingers on the tongue. In my opinion, olive oil gives a stunning texture to this orange, olive oil and thyme loaf. It bakes up loftier and has a crumb that stays moist for longer. Plus, adding in freshly chopped thyme releases the earthy, minty, slightly lemony flavour that complements the orange beautifully.

Orange, olive oil & thyme loaf

I personally also love to include some ground almonds for a slightly moister, crumblier and browner appearance – but you can always substitute this for additional flour if you don’t have any almonds in your kitchen cupboard. The original recipe called for 25g of yoghurt, but I wanted to ensure there was a beautiful creaminess to the loaf and that it would be a moist, fluffier and lighter loaf cake so upped this to 200g.

I’ve also included an optional glaze that you can add to give the loaf more of a citrus flavour, however it tastes just as good without! This version is photographed without the glaze {I simply juiced the remaining orange halves and drank it myself when testing so there was no waste!}.

Orange, olive oil & thyme loaf

What alternative ingredients can I use in this loaf?

In case you don’t have absolutely everything to hand in the kitchen, here are some alternatives you can use in this recipe instead:

  • Yoghurt: I like to use Greek yoghurt in this recipe, but you could easily substitute this for buttermilk instead, mascarpone or ricotta.
  • Sugar: I prefer to use granulated sugar here but caster or golden caster sugar are also fine.
  • Thyme: you can use dried thyme but I’d suggest trying to get your hands on fresh thyme for a more authentic flavour.
  • Eggs: I use medium eggs for this recipe, but if you only have large, use one less egg (so, three mediums or two large for this particular recipe).
  • Double cream: adding a little double cream to the icing gives it more of a milky taste. You can leave this out completely or use single cream or milk as a substitute.
  • Oranges: Lemons, or any other citrus fruit would be an excellent alternative to oranges for this recipe.
  • Olive oil: I recommend using Extra virgin olive oil since it’s the least processed form of olive oil and a primary flavour in this cake. You can use regular olive oil but the flavour may not be as grassy, peppery or fruity!
  • Flour: I love using Shipton Mill’s cake and pastry flour, but have included plain flour in this recipe as it’s more common in the kitchen. I personally never substitute plain flour + baking powder for self-raising flour which already has raising agents in it. This is because you have no control over how much raising agent is in your bake when using self-raising flour alone.
  • Almonds: I love including almonds to moisten my loaf, but you can always 60g additional flour if you don’t have any.
  • Vanilla: I’m a big fan of vanilla bean paste, but extract will work perfectly too.

If you’re not sure whether an ingredient can be substituted feel free to leave a comment on this post or drop me a DM on Instagram, and I’ll be sure to get back to you asap!

Orange, olive oil & thyme loaf

What you’ll need to make this recipe

Orange, olive oil and thyme loaf

Orange, olive oil + thyme loaf

An easy-to-make loaf cake with Extra Virgin olive oil, fresh thyme and a citrusy orange icing.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 8 slices


For the cake

  • 170 g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme roughly chopped
  • 175 g  Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75 ml  Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 170 g  granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 oranges zested

For the glaze (optional)

  • 1.5 oranges juiced
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar sifted

For the icing

  • 130 g icing sugar sifted
  • 1/2 orange juiced
  • 1 tbsp double cream


  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • In a large bowl, sift together your flour and baking powder, then add the salt, ground almonds and freshly chopped thyme. Mix together.
  • In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients except for the olive oil using an electric whisk – the yoghurt, the vanilla bean paste and the eggs, as well as the granulated sugar and zest of your two oranges.
  • Add the wet ingredients to your bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to catch any stray flour.
  • Add the Extra Virgin olive oil and fold it into the cake batter, using a spatula until there are no streaks of oil left.
  • Pour into your prepared tin, level out the top and place in the oven for 50 minutes.
  • Remove your cake from the oven, and insert a skewer into the centre along the crack in the top. If your skewer comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it, your cake is ready. If it comes out wet, pop your loaf back in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes.
    N.B. If you need to pop it back in and the top is browning too quickly, cover it with silver foil before baking further.
  • Place on a wire rack, still in the tin, and if you are glazing your cake, prick all over with a cocktail stick, skewer or cake tester.

For the glaze (optional)

  • In the meantime, make your glaze {if you want to add this – it’ll give your loaf a stronger orange flavour, will make it slightly more moist and means you use up all the oranges but without it tastes just as good!} and icing.
  • Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and cut your zested oranges in half. Juice 3 halves and pour the juice into your bowl, mixing until you have a runny glaze to pour over your cake when it comes out the oven.

For the icing

  • For the icing, sift your icing sugar into another bowl and juice the remaining half orange. Pour the juice into the icing sugar and mix until completely combined. Add 1tbsp of double cream and mix again.

To finish

  • Pour your glaze over the cake allowing it to seep in. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool for 20-30 minutes before turning out of the tin and leaving to cool completely.
  • Once the cake is cool, pour the icing over the top and leave to set before slicing.
  • Store in Tupperware in the fridge and consume within three days.
Keyword cake, loaf, olive oil, orange, thyme

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May 26, 2021