Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake

Ok, so maybe you are a super sophisticated person and you have not only heard of olive oil cake, but you have also eaten it a million times and it's totally old news to you.  I am obviously not sophisticated, because I had never heard of an olive oil cake until a few years ago and I had never eaten one until yesterday, when I decided to make one for myself and see what all the fuss was about.  I had no idea what to expect; I just chose a recipe at random and went for it (actually, it wasn't totally random, I chose the one that I already had all of the ingredients for.  I'm super thrifty like that).

Fun fact about me: I'm not much of a dessert person.  Gasp!  I know, right?  I love to bake, but I'm not that into sweets.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'll eat sweets, I'll eat pretty much anything.  But I don't crave sweets, and, unlike my husband, I have a lot of control over myself when it comes to eating them.  To me, dessert means good bread covered in cheese, or a salty soft pretzel.  That's my kind of dessert.

So, back to the olive oil cake.  I made this cake expecting to eat one slice, decide whether it was good or not, and then watch my husband devour the rest of it.  This is usually how it goes around here.  But this cake.............Oh man.  This cake is the cake.  Perfect consistency.  Perfect amount of sweetness.  The top flakes in the most awesome way imagineable.  This is a Meredith cake.  I think I ate three slices yesterday.  And then I thought about it all day today at work.

This is also a great dessert for this time of year.  It's so light, it won't weigh you down in this heat.  Cuz despite what you may think, it is still summer.  It's not pumpkin pie time yet, no matter what the stores may say.  (Why is pumpkin everything already happening?  Let me have my summer, big corporations!  I'm still not over lemon everything!)

My verdict on olive oil cakes?  New favorite cake.  It's easy to make, it's delicious, and it's unexpected.  I have a feeling my friends/family are going to get tired of this one.

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake (from Epicurious)

3/4 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin)
1 large lemon
1 cup all purpose flour
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Zest lemon into your flour.  Mix zest into the flour (this prevents it from drying out).  Juice your lemon.  Strain and set aside.
Beat your yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Reduce your speed to medium and add  your olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice.  Beat until just combined.  With a spoon, mix in flour until just combined (don't use your stand mixer).

Beat your egg whites (remember, we are only using 4) and salt in a separate bowl with clean beaters on medium-high speed until foamy.  Then add 1/4 cup sugar slowly.  Continue to beat until your whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold 1/3 of your whites into your flour/yolk mixture.  Then add the remaining yolks.  Combine gently, but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to a 9" round cake pan greased with olive oil.  Sprinkle the top with remaining sugar.  Rap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.  Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

And that's it!  Perfect Lemon and Olive Oil Cake.  This recipe really is very simple, don't get discouraged by separating the eggs and the  beating-the-egg-white-thing.  You got this!  Now go impress your friends with how awesome you are!

I'm thinking this cake needs a yummy topping to make it extra special.  Any suggestions?

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