Most of us don’t do enough to celebrate winter citrus season, when the perennial lemons, limes, and oranges are joined (briefly or not, depending where you live) by exotic varieties and hybrids: yuzu, tangelo, pomelo, calamansi, bergamot, and blood orange. We often purchase these flamboyant fruits out of curiosity alone, then figure out what to do with them a week later when they threaten to wilt and harden.

In times like these, we make a citrus and olive oil cake.

While there are many recipes for moist, spongy olive oil cakes to be found, ours is perfectly sized for a No.8 Field Skillet—and is perhaps the best dessert (save for anything deep-fried) for seasoning your field skillet.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Field Notes:


This recipe is sized for a No.8 Field Skillet, and we love how the cake mushrooms beautifully over the top and side of the pan. You can also bake this same recipe in a No.10-size skillet, but you’ll end up with a flatter top (as pictured above), which you might prefer if you plan to flip the cake onto a platter for serving.


You can make this cake with many kinds of citrus, but we love the way blood oranges yield a slightly darker crumb. Other favorite citrus swaps include other orange varieties, lemons (including Meyer lemons), and grapefruit. Save your limes for cocktails.

Recipe: Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake

Yield: 8 servings



Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the bottom and side of a No.8 Field Skillet with olive oil. Set the pan inside a rimmed baking sheet.


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, yogurt, eggs, blood orange zest and juice. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (The cake should rise slightly above the edge of the skillet.) Remove from the oven and let the cake cool to room temperature in the skillet, 1 to 2 hours. Dust the top of the cake with confectioner’s sugar (if using), then cut into slices and serve.

Seasoning Rating: Best

You can't do much better than an olive oil cake in a generously oiled skillet. Just remember to store your cake elsewhere after serving—a dense cake can trap moisture against the cooking surface and side walls, creating conditions conducive to surface rust or stripped seasoning.

Seasoning Ratings:

Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.

Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.

Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.

OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.