Simple, bright, lemony and springy. This Meyer lemon olive oil cake was the dessert I chose to serve for our last day living in New York. As I sat in my living room watching sequence after sequence of lightening and thunderstorms almost supernatural pummeling through the landscape of the Northeast, I reflected on the last two years. With a warm cup of tea in my hand, a slice of this fabulously moist cake in the other, I curled up in the corner of my sofa staring at the skyscrapers across the way. I almost couldn't believe that it was over. No more of those piping hot chewy Manhattan bagels, no more walking to La Maison du Chocolat for a chocolate macaroon whenever it struck me, and no more waiting in line for 20 minutes for the check out stand at Whole Foods.
Two years ago I was reluctant to move here when my husband announced that he was offered a new job, and now I sit here much to my surprise reluctant to leave. I've had a lot of time to reflect these past few months pacing in the evenings through our 1,000 square foot apartment with our newborn Alex. My best memories of this city were with friends going out to new restaurants. I kick myself these days for not going out more often when I had the chance.
So I start yet another new chapter in my life, one imbued by change. I take with me fond memories of exciting meals with friends, long strolls through Central Park with my husband and the hope that maybe someday our son, the driving force for our departure, will come back to this city and make it a home for himself.
Since this is rather a bittersweet moment, lemon olive oil cake seemed appropriate, a reverberation of the old mantra making lemonade out of lemons. While the original recipe for this fabulous lemon olive oil cake calls for plain old jane lemons, I was lucky enough to have sweet Meyer lemons on hand courtesy of my good friend Sherry Page, who generously sent me a box full of this special citrus from her garden. Thank you to my darling friend Sherry!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
From Gourmet Magazine April 2006
The original recipe does not call for lemon honey syrup, but I thought it was just the antidote to provide a bit more weight to an otherwise lofty and airy cake. The recipe calls for use of a springform pan however I've successfully baked the cake in a pie pan. Just make sure to butter whichever type of pan you decide to use.
- 3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
- 1 large lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
- 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
- 5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
- 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
From Fresh Local and Best
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 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 together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
- Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar 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 (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.
- Beat 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.
- In the mean time, make the lemon honey syrup. In a small sauce pan, warm the lemon juice and honey over low heat. Stir until combined. With a fork, prick the cake across the surface. Drizzle the lemon honey syrup evenly over the cake. Cool the cake for an hour.
- Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment. Sprinkle the powdered sugar with a sieve on top of the cake. Transfer cake to a serving plate.