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Lemon Olive Oil Cake with a Lemon Rosemary Glaze

Mariel here. Last week, I cooked dinner for an editor friend of mine from Epicurious, no pressure or anything. I whipped up Halibut with a Hazelnut Romesco, which was to-die-for – thank God – but it was much pricier than most of my any-given-Monday meals (you can check out her recap of the dish here).  While I’m no stranger to Epicurious, in preparation for our dinner date, I spent a good deal of time perusing their extensive archives and found myself drawn to a Lemon Olive-Oil Cake from the 2006 issue of Gourmet. A few weeks back, Deb from Smitten Kitchen concocted a Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake that also piqued my interest, so I figured it was high time I took a stab at one of these sophisticated lemon dessert recipes.

I settled on the aforementioned Gourmet confection – thanks in part to its “3½ forks” rating – but I wasn’t quite satisfied with the lemon levels. If it’s gonna be citrusy, let’s not be coy about it. I ramped up both the zest quotient and the amount of fresh-squeezed juice and added a tart rosemary-infused glaze that really drives this cake home. It’s fantastic. The ideal treat for a bridal shower luncheon, an afternoon tea party, a formal brunch or a holiday dessert. It’s moist and fluffy, sweet yet tart, and the subtly herbed glaze dials up the fresh-factor. I love this cake. I give it a full 4 out of 4 forks and am looking forward to serving this to the next foodie that walks through my front door. I’m thinking next time I’ll try subbing in a grapefruit, just for kicks.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with a Zesty Lemon Rosemary Glaze
Serves 8-10

Note: You’ll need a 9-inch springform cake pan and parchment paper, though commentators on Epicurious noted that they also used regular baking/cake pans in a pinch. My advice: use a springform if you have it.

Ingredients for the Cake:
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (you’ll need 2 large lemons for this recipe, including the glaze) – $0.50
3 teaspoons lemon zest – above
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising) – $2.99
5 large eggs, carefully separate the whites from the yolks – stock
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided – stock
½ teaspoon salt – stock

Ingredients for the Glaze:
2 Tablespoons of butter, softened – stock
1 cup confectioner’s sugar – stock
1/8-cup freshly squeezed lemon juice – above
3 teaspoons lemon zest, divided – stock
1/8 teaspoon of dried rosemary, crush it between your fingers to “activate” it – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $3.49
Cost per slice: $0.35

Directions for Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a springform with a little bit of olive oil. Cut out a round of parchment paper and place it on the bottom of the pan. Grease the parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the cake flour and and 3 teaspoons of lemon zest. Set aside.

3. In an electric mixer, beat your 5 egg whites with a ½ teaspoon of salt using immaculately clean beaters until foamy (use the whisk beater attachment if you have a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer). Add ¼-cup of granulated sugar by the spoonful and continue to beat until the egg whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Pour into a clean bowl and set aside.

4. In the mixing bowl you just used to beat the egg whites, beat together the egg yolks and ½-cup of granulated sugar at high speed until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice and beat until just combined. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour/zest mixture until just barely combined.

5. Very gently fold the egg whites into the yolk/flour batter until fully incorporated.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and gently rap the pan against the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake until puffy and golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean – 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then slide a knife around the edges and pop off the springform sides. Continue to cool for another 30 minutes. Once cool, flip upside down onto a cutting board or plate and remove parchment paper. Flip rightside up onto your serving plate.

Directions for the Glaze:
1. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In the cleaned bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter on high speed. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and 1/8-cup lemon juice alternating between the two on med-high speed. On low speed, stir in 1 teaspoon of zest and the dried, crushed rosemary.

2. Once the cake is fully cool, glaze just the top, letting a bit drip off the side (as pictured above). Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 teaspoons of zest, if desired.