Full disclosure: I’m a major walnut lover. I keep a huge mason jar full of them in my freezer at all times (which keeps them fresh longer than in the pantry.) A handful of satisfyingly nutty and nutrient-dense walnuts is my go-to snack on a week day afternoon. So, when California Walnuts reached out about partnering on some recipes this summer, I was excited to get in the kitchen and get creative with my favorite nut. We’re kicking it off today with an easy olive oil cake recipe, featuring tons of ground walnuts, honey, and citrus. It’s a simple, special snacking cake for an afternoon treat or a sweet morning ritual paired with a cup of coffee. Read on to see how this Walnut and Honey Olive Oil Cake comes together, and grab the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

So, what’s a snacking cake?

I’ve been really into the concept of “snacking cakes” ever since I got Yossi Arefi’s cookbook called (unsurprisingly) Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings. According to Arefi, snacking cakes are single-layered cakes that are made with little effort, and ingredients likely sitting in your cupboard. Typically, they’re adorned simply, with a glaze, or a dollop of whipped cream, or, in the case of this easy olive oil cake recipe, a few candied oranges. They’re comfort food at its finest—enjoyed in a quiet moment with yourself or to pull out of the oven when friends come over.

Can you use ground nuts in place of flour?

As a general rule-of-thumb when baking, you can replace up to half of the flour a recipe calls for with finely ground nuts with no issues. (You can sub even more, but in order to make sure cake holds together, you’ll need to make a few other alterations to the recipe.)

Years ago, I took some classes at the Culinary Institute of America, and one of the instructors taught us how to make the most delicious cake using 100% ground walnuts instead of flour. I’ve made that recipe for years, and especially love pulling it out for friends who have gluten intolerance since it’s naturally gluten-free.

In this easy olive oil cake recipe, I wanted to achieve the light, fluffy texture that flour provides while using ground walnuts to enhance the flavor and make the cake more nutrient-rich, so I used half flour and half walnut, and the results were perfect.

What makes walnuts the omega-3 ALA nut?

On to our starring ingredient: the walnuts that infuse every bite of this cake with luxuriously nutty flavor. Fun fact: 99% of all the walnuts grown in the country are from California! And they’re the only tree nut with an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 ALA fatty acid (2.5g per 1oz), which is great for your heart and overall wellness. You can read more about the nutritional benefits of walnuts as well as the scientific research that has been conducted around the heart-health benefits of walnuts.

How do you toast walnuts?

I love California walnuts in their natural raw state, but especially for baked goods, toasting them brings out a nuttiness and crunch that is so delicious. Here’s how I toast nuts:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Spread out your walnuts on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for about 7 minutes, until the walnuts just begin to turn golden. If you can smell the toastiness coming from the oven, pull them out right away before they burn.
  • Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the baking.

What’s the best way to store walnuts?

Walnuts should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for optimum freshness. I love to toast them and store in a mason jar in my freezer—when I need a snack, a small handful is enough to reenergize and satisfy me. And it’s no surprise they’re so satiating: did you know that one ounce of walnuts includes 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 45mg of magnesium? We’ve talked many times on the site about how important protein, fiber, and good fats are for stabilizing blood sugar and keeping you fuller longer, so it’s no surprise that walnuts are my super snack.

Scroll on for the easy olive oil cake recipe with walnuts and citrus, and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram if you give it a try.

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