It started with a birthday. It had to be done: something simple and stress-free. This cake post has been in the works for a while, not because it necessarily needed a lot of tweaking, but more due to the fact that I haven’t taken a picture of my actual, circular cake yet, and went straight to going crazy with the blondie version, which this cake seamless transforms into. I have made olive oil cakes before, but the combination of the zing-zang-pop of tart lemons, and many glugs of heady liquid fat, is special.
I know, you’ll be standing there in your kitchen, pouring all that quality oil into your bowl, thinking, what a waste! But no! No. In the parlance of Zadie Smith’s stance on love and relationships, it hurts as much as it’s worth.
The beauty of these one-bowl recipes, as usual, lie in their ease and grace. You simply mix together the wet ingredients first, then tip in the dry, then you sprinkle on some granulated sugar before baking to get this beautiful golden, crackly top once it is finished baking in the oven.
As pictured below, I reveal to you a more behind the scenes shot of recipe testing, which included plenty of char, which I don’t mind but is not particularly photogenic. Nevertheless, it was just as sublime, darkness and all.
My friends being the sweet guinea pigs that they are, have been devotees of this simple yellow cake. It has crisp edges and a fudgy middle, so it is pretty much right smack in the middle of being a cake and a blondie. You truly get the best of both worlds. Although the granulated sugar sprinkle at the end of the cake-making process is optional, it’s mostly a must, making for the most delicate crispy crust hugging the top and corners.
Lemon olive oil cake (for one 9-inch cake, serves 8-9)
The juice and rind of 2 lemons
210g (around a little more than a cup) white sugar
1 tsp fine salt
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
240ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tbsp granulated sugar for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9×9-inch square tin or a 9-inch circular baking pan with parchment paper. I recommend using a pan with a removeable bottom, as it makes removing the cake later a piece of cake (haha).
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, lemon juice and rind. Tip the flour and baking powder on top, and use the same whisk to first gently whisk the flour and baking powder that is sitting on top of the liquid batter briefly, then slowly incorporate everything together until you get a nice, homogenous batter. The batter should be yellow and rather liquidy, so it drops easily from your whisk. Pour the batter (and it should be easy to pour) into your prepared pan and sprinkle on the coarse granulated sugar all over the top. You may need slightly more than the quantity described in the ingredients list, according to your taste. Bake for half an hour. Check at the half hour mark with a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake; if the skewer emerges with moist crumbs, then remove and let cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Bake for another 10 minutes if the skewer comes out still looking quite wet. The top should have a beautiful and the sides will have darkened slightly. Once the cake is cool, you can dust the top with icing sugar and maybe even some dried lemon slices. Serve with cream or ice cream!
Until next time,