You my recall I made a lemon pound cake a week or so ago, and I wasn't so hot on it. It wasn't lemony enough, and was just generally blah. Though it left me wanting a great pound cake I didn't make much of an effort to find one, as I had moved on to other tasty treats.
Now, I have a serious baking book habit. Serious. I basically want every baking book ever written, and have a good number of them already. The most recent addition to my collection is The Craft of Baking, and on my first flip-through this is the recipe that jumped out at me. I love the name of this cake, and everything it evokes. Olive oil; earthy, fruity, tangy - the perfect complement to zippy, tart lemons.
This is my first olive oil cake, per se, though I have used olive oil several times in baking - whenever a recipe calls for a different oil. So I suppose what I should say is that this is the first time I have baked something where olive oil was intended to be a contributing flavor. Oh, how I loved it.
This, people, is a lemon cake.
This is everything a lemon cake should be. It is also everything a pound cake should be. The crumb is tight and tender, supple even. It is perfectly lemony. Lemony, but not tart. The real triumph of this cake, however is its texture. This cake is so moist, it makes a sound when you tear a piece off. It makes a sound!!! It does not have a drop of extra grease, either. It isn't a very sweet cake, which I appreciate, though the top is sprinkled with sugar before baking, creating a paper-thin crunchy crust. Perfection.
The only downside of this superb pound cake is that it is small and it requires a lot of dishes. You may want to double the recipe and save one loaf for later. I say this under the naive delusion that two loaves have a chance of lasting longer than one (which lasted exactly 6 hours in my house).
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon, strained
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar for topping cake
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2 " loaf pan with parchment, butter parchment and any pan that is exposed. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Set aside. Place 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a heat-proof bowl - preferably the bowl of a stand mixer - combine eggs, sugar and zest, and place bowl over pot of simmering water, whisking until egg mixture is warm to the touch - this doesn't take very long. Remove bowl from pot and attach to mixer fitted with whisk attachment - if you're not using a stand mixer, place bowl on counter and use hand mixer - and beat on medium until mixture thickens and becomes pale, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, cream and lemon juice in a small bowl. When the egg mixture has reached appropriate thickness, drizzle olive oil mixture over it and mix until combined. Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Stir in melted butter. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth batter and sprinkle with tablespoon of sugar. Bake until top of cake is golden, and tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes in pan, then remove to rack to cool completely before cutting.