Lemon & Olive Oil Cake


Five years ago I started this website with an earnest love of sharing good food with dear friends. It is a happy coincidence that Pro Bono Baker's anniversary shares calendar space with the birthday of one of my oldest and most treasured friends, Eileen. I joined her this weekend for a birthday brunch in her lovely, sun-soaked apartment and I brought this rustic lemon and olive oil cake.

Calling for equal parts olive oil and sugar, this cake has a gentle sweetness and a delicate flavor. To add some visual flair for the special occasion, I cooked dark cherries with sugar and lemon juice to create a thick glaze that I added just before serving.

Thank you all for a truly enjoyable five years!  I look forward to cooking with you and learning from you for years to come.


Lemon & Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from the April 2006 issue of Gourmet


3/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 large lemon
1 C cake flour (not self-rising)
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
3/4 C plus 1 1/2 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper, fit it into the bottom of the pan and oil the parchment.

In a medium bowl, finely grate the lemon zest and combine with the flour. In a second bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar using an electric hand mixer until thick and pale, about three minutes.  Add the olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice and beat until just combined. (The mixture may appear slightly separated.  This is okay.) Gently stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon. 

In a third bowl, beat the egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon of salt using clean beaters until foamy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar a little at time and continue to beat the egg whites until they begin to form soft peaks, about three minutes.  Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture.  Add the remaining whites gently and combine thoroughly.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and gently rap the pan on your work surface a few times to release any large air bubbles.  Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake until puffed and golden or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake for 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan. After time has elapsed, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and remove the side. Cool the cake to room temperature, about an hour. Remove the bottom of the pan, peel off parchment and transfer cake to a serving plate.