Julia Turshen’s Almond & Lemon Cake is a rustic and beautifully tender olive oil-based cake with an addictive lemon scent and flavor.
I’m beginning to think I should make a solo index for olive oil desserts. I may or may not be obsessed with them at this point. All of the olive oil cakes I have made so far have been pretty amazing, and this one is no exception. Not as fabulous as my favorite Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze that I shared at the start of February, but definitely DELISH. It’s a little more textured because of the almond meal, but the crumb is still delicate and almost melt-in-the-mouth. It has a lovely lemon scent and tang which intensifies as the days pass.
Considering there is almond meal in the cake, there is that almond flavor playing around in every bite even though it isn’t super pronounced. It truly does lend the cake a little extra something. To me, this is still mostly a lemon cake however, and is something a lemon-lover may want to try out for size.
Frankly, this Almond & Lemon Cake is deceptively simple-looking. It’s not super sweet and is addictively lemon-y, plus it’s so light. All of these factors can and will probably fool your mind into thinking you’re not eating anything sinful, and before you know it you’ve eaten a quarter of the cake by yourself lol.
The signature crumb that pretty much all olive oil cakes share is another reason why I expect this cake will be well-loved despite not wearing any extra frosting make-up. To be honest, I do believe that cakes that can stand up on their own without needing fancy tricks are the best ones.
Oh and another great thing about this cake is that it does not harden in the fridge. It stays beautifully tender cold, but I still prefer enjoying this at a cool room temp. It’s one of those cakes you can have with a dollop of cream for dessert or a cup of coffee for afternoon snack. I definitely loved it as a dessert to the Shrimp Risotto I made.
- Make sure to grease the pan and line the bottom. You want a nice even coat of oil (or shortening, which is my preference when greasing pans) around the pan, then place a round of parchment at the bottom to make transferring the cake to a serving plate much easier. The last thing you want after putting in the effort and time to make the cake is to have it stick to the pan and be ruined.
- Use good extra virgin olive oil. My personal pick for EVOO is the Classic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Cobram Estates. It’s got a violet label, and its flavor is a bit more neutral as opposed to the popular “fruity” olive oil choices. I think a neutral EVOO is the way to go when you’re making an olive oil-based dessert. You get the chemical benefits of the olive oil in terms of making your cakes soft, tender, and moist, but you don’t get any of the strong olive oil aftertastes, allowing the flavor of the cake itself to shine.
- Make sure to incorporate the sugar into the eggs and olive oil. This step will be easier to accomplish with a balloon whisk. We want these three ingredients to be completely homogenized and the sugar completely dissolved. To ensure this, rub a bit of the batter between your fingertips. If you do not feel any sort of sugar crystal rubbing against your skin, it’s good to go.
- Do not over-mix the batter once the flour mixture has gone in. This is a cardinal rule for almost all cakes, loaves, and even muffins. Mixing the flour with the liquid far too much will encourage too much gluten formation. Gluten is good in breads, but it makes cakes dense and a bit tough. When you reach this step, you should stop mixing the moment you no longer see streaks of flour in the batter. Don’t worry if the batter is lumpy; it evens out once baked.
- Do not over-bake the cake! Start checking the cake at the 25 minute mark if it passes the toothpick test. I actually like it when the toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs rather than completely clean.
Julia Turshen's Almond & Lemon Cake
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (50 grams) almond meal
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup (120 mL) good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-in cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set aside for now.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are fully combined. Add the olive oil and granulated sugar and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. To test, rub some of the batter between two fingers. You should no longer feel any sugar crystals.
- Whisk in the vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk in the flour mixture, just until combined. Try not to over-mix the batter.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Hold the pan just a bit above the counter, and then drop down to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is beautifully golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs. Remove from oven and transfer cake in its pan onto a wire rack, until completely cooled.
- Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the cake from the pan and invert onto a clean work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment, then invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter so the flat side is down and the domed side is up. Just before serving, dust the cake with confectioners' sugar. I suggest serving this as dessert after this spectacular Shrimp Risotto.
Watch how it's made
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