Everyone should have a “go-to” (olive oil) lemon cake in their back pocket ready to pull out and whip together for a last-minute treat, or when you find out unexpected guests are coming to visit.
This was my late mother’s “go-to” cake when she’d get a last-minute phone call that someone was on their way to visit. She never used a cookbook or a recipe. It was always by memory and I swear, she looked as if she had no clue how much flour she was pouring into the bowl every time.
But like clockwork, the cake always tasted amazing.
Toward the last years of her life when I started taking a keen interest in her baking and actually writing down recipes, I focused on this cake since it was my favorite. I’d literally stand on top of her measuring what she was about to pour into a bowl and count the eggs and other ingredients.
The first few times it didn’t come close to what it should have tasted like but eventually, I was able to test this numerous times. And although I still need to refer to the ingredients list and instructions– the outcome has been perfected– finally!
This classic olive oil cake is a perfect way to bring a touch of that Greek lemon orchard into your home! The most important thing about this recipe is to use the very best ingredients— which include nothing but Greek extra virgin olive oil, Greek sea salt (ideally the purest kind which comes from the Ionian Sea near Messolonghi) and of course, organic lemons.
Scroll to the bottom for some tips on how to change this recipe up a but and give it even more Greek inspiration.
- ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil, more to grease the baking pan
- 1 cup flour
- 1 large organic lemon, zested (about 1 Tbsp.) and juiced (3½ Tbsp.), kept separate
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. Greek sea salt salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar, for serving
*Extra virgin Greek olive oil, sea salt (optional) honey and marmalade can be sourced from Olive Grove Market.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil using a paper towel and line the bottom with a parchment round. Don’t forget to rub the oil on the parchment, also
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, and sea salt.
- In another bowl use the whisk attachment of a hand mixer and beat the eggs and sugar on high until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until it is completely combined.
- Pour the batter into your greased pan and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and run a knife along the edge. Let the cake cool about 20 minutes before flipping onto a cake plate. Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar to serve.
Serve with a dollop of Greek marmalade and you have a wonderful, citrusy treat to share.
Prefer oranges? You can make the exact same recipe, using orange zest and double the amount of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Adding raw, Cretan honey on top takes this cake to a new level. Honey should only be drizzled right before serving, otherwise it will moisten the cake. The ancient Greeks were masters at mixing honey and lemon in their cooking.
Another great way to garnish this cake is with candied lemon slices. Using a sharp knife, cut lemons into thin slices (approximately 1/8-inch thickness). In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer over medium-low heat and add the lemon slices in a single layer when the sugar is dissolved. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, gently flipping once or twice during the cooking process. When the lemons are slightly translucent, they are finished cooking (P.S.— the same method can be applied to oranges).
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