When it comes to baking or cooking, I try to avoid using the “best” moniker. In my opinion, there’s always a better chocolate chip cookie recipe, pancake recipe or roast chicken recipe waiting just around the corner.
I mean it. It’s one of the very best ever.
So what’s so great about this cake?
For starters, it’s a Gina De Palma recipe. I am a tremendous fan of De Palma’s. Her book, Dolce Italiano, is one of my most treasured cookbooks. I admire both her skill and her creativity as a pastry chef. A Gina De Palma recipe is going to be a good one.
But what else makes this cake so great?
Well, the cake batter has a small amount of almond flour in it. I am constantly impressed how nut flours affect the texture and flavour of baked goods. Even though I’ve been baking for a long time I’m pretty new to using nut flours and the more I use them the more I appreciate them.
The almond flour adds another layer of almond flavour but also gives the cake crumb a slight density in texture that’s very pleasant. The cake is tender, but doesn’t fall apart. It’s toothsome and I think the almond flour has a lot do with it.
The cake batter also calls for olive oil as opposed to butter. I am late to the world of baking recipes that rely on olive oil as a fat instead of butter or something else. To be honest, the first time I saw a cake recipe that called for olive oil I thought it was a bit odd.
Olive oil is for savoury, or at least that’s what I always thought was right. When I finally tried a cake made with olive oil, I was blown away. It’s incredible how mellow the olive oil is in the finished product and most importantly, the cake is absolutly not oily.
You could probably forego the almond glaze, although I loved it. A sifting of icing sugar would be just as nice or a dollop of yogurt and some fresh berries on the side would also be lovely.
Bottom line is that I plan on making this cake again and again and again.
It is lovely. It truly is one of the best ever.
Lemon Almond Olive Oil Cake
Slightly adapted from Serious Eats.
Makes 1 9-inch cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:
2 tbsps. unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsps. whole milk
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and continue whisking vigorously until the mixture is thickened and paler in colour (45 seconds to a minute). Add the vanilla and almond extracts, the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a cake tester or a tooth pick in the centre of the cake (it will come out clean). The cake is also done when it springs back when you press it with a finger.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cook for 10 or 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Let it cool completely before glazing (you can also serve it as is with a sprinkling of icing sugar.)
To make the glaze:
Melt the butter in a small pan. Once melted, let it cook just a bit more until it begins to brown slightly. Remove from the heat and let the butter sit for a 2 or 3 minutes.
In another bowl, combine the sifted icing sugar and the milk. Whisk until smooth (it will be thick). Slowly whisk in the butter. Add the lemon juice. At the end, stir in the sliced almonds and then pour the glaze over the cake.