Hiding Behind Dessert: Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Let’s face it, things are a mess right now. The economy is in shambles, our leaders can’t agree on a solution, and the world is basically in chaos. Plus, have I mentioned that the sun hasn’t come out since last week?

As the rain poured down on Sunday I decided to cook my way back into cheer and comfort. I started with a recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake, reprinted on Serious Eats from the new cookbook Olives and Oranges. Even a cursory look through the Artichoke Heart archives will prove my culinary affection for the powerful pairing of olive oil and lemons. Whether featured in a rice salad or fried zucchini flowers, these Mediterranean staples are the embodiment of sunshine and happiness. I bet even Wall Street would agree.

My obsession with this dessert actually dates back a few weeks. I first saw a version of it in the September issue of Food & Wine, which included a gorgeous photograph and recipe for Olive Oil-Thyme Cake with Figs. But my enthusiasm quickly waned when I saw that the recipe required both pastry and bread flour and came with a long page of instructions. I’m not lazy or cheap, but I just didn’t feel like investing in two different kinds of baking flour when I don’t bake very often. (I also didn’t feel like carrying home a ton of ingredients from the grocery store. OK, so maybe I am a little lazy.)

A week or so later I came across the simplified recipe for Lemon Olive Oil cake on Serious Eats. Except for a springform pan, I already had all the ingredients and tools I needed at home. All I had to do was pull that darn mixer out from under the sink, combine the ingredients together, and my simple, Italian-inspired dessert was ready in an hour.

Now, that piece of cake in the photograph above may look like a bland little poundcake, but oh my, does it make up in flavor what it lacks in appearance. The combination of good quality, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon rind, and tangy whole-milk yogurt creates a simple yet explosive dessert that emits sunshine with every slice. I’ve been eating it for dessert after dinner and for breakfast all week, hiding from the front page news behind its soft, spongy texture and satisfying crumb. Believe me, it works. I feel better already.

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9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ashley said,

    Looks yummy. I recently had a lemon olive oil popsicle at Locopops that made me feel swell. Must be something soothing in that combination.

  2. 2

    I’ve never made a cake like this, but tasted one at a dinner party a few years ago and begged the hostess for the recipe! The richness of the olive oil and bright flavor of lemon are such a good combination.

  3. 3

    Christina said,

    Ashley–Mmm, Locopops. We’ll have to go back the next time I’m in Durham. I’ve got to try this flavor for myself and see how soothing it is.

    Lydia–You’re right, olive oil and lemons can’t be beat. Now maybe you’ll have to try that recipe!

  4. 4

    Libby said,

    Yum! I might have to try some this weekend. Now, where to get a springform pan in midtown…..

  5. 5

    Christina said,

    Hi Libby! You can always take a walk over to William-Sonoma at Columbus Circle! I bought my springform in Brooklyn. Some of the non-stick ones are a little expensive, but I went with a cheaper tin one and didn’t have any problems. Let me know if you enjoy the cake!

  6. 6

    mmmm! My favorite – lemon and olive oil! I’m so happy to see we are on the same wavelength. 😉

  7. 7

    Libby said,

    btw this was delicious! Thanks!

  8. 8

    Christina said,

    Hi Libby! I am glad you enjoyed it! I’m wondering how soon I can make it again…

  9. 9

    melissa said,

    uumm do you know these people or are you gathering a following? i better be nicer to
    you because what if you become famous? i’ll need to hang out with you. also did stone barns let you take pics? i got a few but it was hard send them over when you can.


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