I was afraid….I was very afraid. The first time I heard of olive oil cake was on Top Chef Masters. The episode was a team challenge were previous Top Chef contestants returned to help the competitors. Chef Michael Chiarello’s , who was acting like a butt-head (I know real mature right?) had olive oil cake on his menu. Although his cake was not successful the host…I forget her name, very tiny, very skinny, kind of a big head…said olive oil cake was one of her favorites. I was intrigued and put it on my list.
I searched around for a recipe and bought a nice olive oil. The bottle and the recipe sat in my kitchen for at least a month. I don’t know why but I was very nervous about making this cake. I was afraid the taste would be weird, that it would be really olive-y or oily or just n0t right. Finally on Sunday I bit the bullet and decided it was time for some Lemon Olive-Oil Cake.
I also apparently decided it was time to ruin my lovely suede seat bar stools. As I was taking the above picture, the hand mixture decided to shift knocking over my 3/4 cup of not so cheap olive oil on to my purse and barstool. Obed at the time was taking a lovely and relaxing afternoon nap, which apparently was disrupted by my blood curdling scream over spilled oil. I don’t cry over spilled milk, but when I spilled this oil I wanted to cry. The purse was washed and saved but the seat is a lost cause. I have determined that I will have to re-upolster the seats. Yeah, another thing on my to-do list.
Thank goodness I still enough olive oil leftover to make the cake. Oh and did I mention how one little dog decided to step in the oil and leave paw prints behind him. The little turd! I was beginning to wonder if this was a sign that maybe I shouldn’t make this cake. Maybe the little olive oil gnomes were trying to tell me something and I wasn’t listening? Maybe they are really against olive oil cake and they were trying to foil my plans? Maybe I am just going crazy and I need to shut up?
Regardless of the gnomes, pesky dog or possible psychological melt down, there was no reason to let an entire 3/4 cup of olive oil to perish in vain. I was going to chug forward and make my cake. Upon closer inspection of the recipe I discovered that I had to beat 4 egg whites into fluffy stiff (Can you say oxymoron?)peaks. I had never done this before but with the help of my trusty KitchenAid hand mixer I accomplished the task. I was so proud of my peaks! Aren’t they cute?
After some beating and folding, my batter was ready for the pan. I actually had a set of 3 springform pans that I got as a wedding gift. I was excited to finally get to use one. Since I was still a little nervous about how the cake was going to taste I had a little taste of the batter. I do realize that maybe this is not so wise since it has 5 raw eggs in it, but honestly you know we all secretly wouldn’t mine getting some sort of stomach virus and droping 10 pounds, on the condition you can fully recover of course.
Then 10 minutes later I was trying to remove it from the springform and since I had no clue what I was doing, it just popped out and fell straight down to the floor. Hence the more rustic and crumbly top you see here. No worries when it fell the pan’s base was still under it, so it never touched the floor. This also induced another scream resulting in the end of Obed’s attempt to nap. I don’t think I have to tell you he was a bit annoyed with me.
However all was forgiven once I cut him a slice of the cake. I don’t know what I was afraid of and I don’t know what the heck the gnomes’ problems are because this cake was delicious. It is denser than I expected but it is very soft and you can taste the lemon. It did not have a distinct olive oil taste at all, like I was afraid it would, but the olive oil definitely pumped up the flavor of the lemon. I am not a huge lemon/citrus dessert person but this cake was lovely. It is the perfect cake to take to a function or to have at a tea.
I decided to use the leftover lemon juice and make a lemon glaze to drizzle over my cake. It was heaven….heaven I tell you!
Lemon Olive-Oil Cake (Gourmet April 2006)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
- 1 large lemon
- 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising) (If you do not have cake flour measure out 1 cup all-purpose flour, take out 2 Tbs and replace it with 2 tbs of cornstarch)
- 5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
- 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- Special equipment: a 9-inch (24-cm) springform pan; parchment paper
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment.
Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk into the flour. Halve lemon and squeeze 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar together 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, beating until just combined the mixture may appear separated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, do not beat.
Beat the egg whites from 4 eggs 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 springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. 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. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.