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Holiday Gift Idea and an Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate

A little twist to the traditional lemon cake. Spruce up your holiday table and serve this olive oil lemon cake with basil and pomegranate. Sponsored by AeroGarden ULTRA. Find more of my pomegranate recipes.

Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate by FamilySpice.com

When it comes to gift-giving, I tend to be a procrastinator. I know some people have all of their holiday gift shopping done way before November rolls in. I am definitely NOT one of those people. When my kids were little and they didn’t pay too close attention to the latest and greatest toys out there, it was easy.

But now, even for family and friends, I’m finding myself dreading the holiday shopping. I always tell my husband, when it comes to gifts, it’s about the thought behind the gift, not the gift itself. So for me, I like to give (and receive) homemade gifts. Edible gifts are my favorite!

Baking with Olive Oil

Since I wrote a cookbook all about cooking with extra virgin olive oil, I’m obviously a big fan of that green stuff! I fry with olive oil and cook with olive oil all the time. I even shared with you cocktails with olive oil. But my favorite method, by far, is to bake with olive oil.

I have already shared with you my recipe for vanilla olive oil cake. This is a standard vanilla cake that I use for my kids birthdays. The key to baking successfully with olive oil is knowing how to choose the best olive oil to bake with.

First of all, you only want to use extra virgin olive oil, not light olive oil (it’s mixed with canola oil) and certainly not pure olive oil (it’s also cut with other oils). Only use extra virgin olive oil. Secondly, you want to bake a sweet cake with mild olive oil, not a peppery one. You also do not want to bake with a rancid olive oil.

The best way to decide which extra virgin olive oil to bake with, taste it straight up. Now don’t cringe. A simple spoonful is all you need. If it makes you cringe, then the oil is probably rancid and shouldn’t be used for any kind of cooking. Do not judge your oil but color or smell. The true test is to taste it.

Bottle of olive oil with olive branches and fresh olives by FamilySpice.com
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My review of the AeroGarden

I was recently offered the chance to test out an AeroGarden ULTRA, which is a great tool for growing herbs during the long winter months. Turns out this was a great gift for me, as I am also challenged in the green-thumb department. I need all the help I can get when it comes to gardening, as I am easily distracted.

My kids were totally fascinated with the AeroGarden, as well. It didn’t take long to set up on our kitchen counter. The garden didn’t require much watering, besides the original filling up of the water well. Everyday the kids would stop by the AeroGarden and check the status of our seedlings.

“They sprouted! They sprouted!”

We are growing 7 different varieties of basil, and it only took a couple of days for the basil seedlings to sprout. A few days later there were recognizable leaves. A few more days after that and the little domes were removed. We were growing basil in winter!

“Mommy, it’s time to feed the plants!” No guesswork here. The AeroGarden told me that two weeks had passed and it was time to drop in the food. It was super easy and the kids were able to measure it out and pour it in themselves.

After three weeks, you could pick off and use some of the basil leaves, but it was into the fourth week when I really started using my basil.

AeroGarden ULTRA Basil for Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate

The Flavors in this Olive Oil Lemon Cake

It might sound strange, but adding herbs to desserts is not at all unheard of. And I’m talking about going beyond mint. I have an apricot galette made with thyme and a grape upside down cake made with rosemary. So for this olive oil lemon cake, I chose to use basil.

First of all, I was thrilled to be growing basil in the middle of winter time! And I had an abundance of basil thanks to my AeroGarden. And secondly, lemon and basil pair so well together. You can enjoy this cake alone or drizzle the lemon glaze over it.

I garnished my olive oil lemon cake with more of winter’s colors and flavors: pomegranate arils, chopped pistachios, lemon zest and even some more fresh basil. I think it turned out gorgeous and delicious. What do you think?

Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate by FamilySpice.com

I have made this olive oil lemon cake in many forms over the years. The cake below was made for The Professor and his friends before they headed off to homecoming. I added lemon juice and lemon zest to simple buttercream frosting and it turned out heavenly! Such a delicious and sophisticated cake for everyone to enjoy!

Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil by FamilySpice.com

Yield: serves 8

Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate

Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate

A little twist to the traditional lemon cake. Spruce up your holiday table and serve this olive oil lemon cake with basil and pomegranate.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 TBS finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Apply non-stick spray to one 9-inch round cake pan or a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, yogurt, olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, lemon zest, and eggs until combined.
  4. In batches, mix flour mixture into yogurt mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Stir in 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and then pour mixture into prepared cake pan.
  6. Place the cake in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Place the cake on a cooling rack, and let it cool for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
  8. For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar with 2 tsp lemon juice until smooth.
  9. Drizzle glaze over the cake prior to serving.
  10. Garnish cake with pomegranate arils, 1 TBS finely chopped pistachios and 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh basil.


Serving Suggestions: Perfect for your afternoon tea or served with fresh seasonal fruit.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 205mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 7g

Disclosure: As part of the Kitchen PLAY Community, I was paid a stipend to develop a dessert recipe using the basil I grew with my AeroGarden. All of the opinions I expressed here are my own. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it!