Apparently my winter bout of lemon mania has not receded. In fact, it would be more accurate to say it has expanded. First, I succumbed to buying a potted Meyer lemon tree, in the hopes that it escapes my usual black thumb with indoor plants. Now, as spring s-l-o-w-l-y greens up my kitchen garden, I’ve been presented with a bouquet of fresh delights to pair it up with. Third, I’ve been searching for a perfect lemon cake recipe. I think, with the lemon olive oil cake I served our guests last weekend, I may declare success.
Since January I think I’ve tried about a dozen recipes looking for a great lemon cake. It had to be:
- not too sweet
- dense, but not heavy
- really lemony
A few recipes came close, but none hit all the essential attributes. Then, as I was reading Extra Virginity – an eye-opening account of what apparently is in, and not in, too many bottles of olive oil — I remembered a recipe from a few years ago in Gourmet magazine.
Through the magic of the internet, I found it. Combined with guests coming on Sunday, it was a perfect opportunity to experiment. A few tweaks to the recipe…voila…lemon olive oil cake!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake (click for printer-friendly version)
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
- 1 large lemon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 egg whites
- 5 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar (divided)
- 1 tsp. Boyaijan lemon oil (this is my secret ingredient…what a difference. Lemon extract can’t compete.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper and oil parchment.
Finely grate the zest from the lemon and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Combine with Boyaijan lemon oil.
Beat together five egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and lemon juice & oil mixture, beat until combined (mixture may appear separated). With a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Beat 4 egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Transfer batter to pan and rap against work surface to release air bubbles. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours.
Top with icing sugar or a glaze of icing sugar and lemon juice. Best when made the day before…the flavor develops beautifully. Adapted from Gourmet, April 2006.
The photo directly to the left shows the table setting from Sunday’s dinner party. As I wrote about in Pretty Table Settings, again the silver is mismatched…Georgian sterling forks with deer antler handled steak knives to cope with the roast lamb.
The daffodils were so pretty I couldn’t resist giving each person their own one!
And the lemon olive oil cake was a hit…only a small slice survived until the next day, and it was swiftly consumed. I shall be making it again…perhaps I’ll experiment and see if it works in a loaf pan.
As always, I have no financial relationships with the products/people mentioned in the links. Extra Virginity is well-worth a read if you are a fan of olive oil. I was equally astounded and dismayed by it. The Boyaijan lemon oil (they have other flavors too) will make your lemon recipes out of this world! I mention both items because I have read/used them personally.