Although I’ve tried my hand at oil-based (rather than butter- or margarine-based) cakes before, until now I’ve not had any success (probably because I haven’t actually accompanied my trials with even a brief glance at a recipe for an oil-based cake…). During my last attempt, I made the error of using olive oil (influenced by something along the lines of olive oil being better for you) with a slightly heavy hand and the result was nothing short of absolutely horrible, both in texture and taste.
This new, and considerably more successful, attempt has been influenced by a whole range of things. First, during my post-appendix operation TV-watching marathon, I came across a few instances of cakes being made with a first step of beating together eggs and sugar, rather than creaming the butter and sugar – something I was aware of but had never tried, and making an oil-based cake seemed like an ideal opportunity to try this method. Second, in one of my recipe books (The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks Great Italian Food) there is a recipe for a cake which uses olive oil, which made me think that despite its strong taste and my past failure, it must be possible to make a good cake with olive oil (but of course, following that recipe would have taken away the challenge of this enterprise, so I didn’t do that…). And finally, on Saturday, when I made this, we were overrun with lemons, following some over-enthusiastic buying of that delicious fruit on my part, and I thought they would make a good partner to olive oil in a cake. And so, I now give you lemon and olive oil cake. I must admit that this cake has received mixed reviews – some people loved it; some people hated it; some (to summarise and paraphrase) thought cake is cake regardless of what type of fat is used. Personally, I think I prefer the lemon cake I used in the lemon cupcakes that I posted last year, but it is good to ring the changes every so often, and this is very easy to make. As usual, the measurements below are made using a 250 ml mug as equal to 1 cup. I baked this cake in a 9 x 12 inch rectangular tin.
What you’ll need:
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
A bit more olive oil, to grease the pan
One lemon and a bit of icing sugar, for the topping
What to do:
1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (190º C or 375º F).
2. Beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until they are light and fluffy.
3. Add the lemon juice and olive oil to the egg and sugar mixture and mix in thoroughly with an electric beater.
4. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and fold into the eggs/sugar/lemon/oil mixture. I found that this took a little while as the flour tended to clump together a bit and so took longer than I expected to fold in thoroughly.
5. Grease a baking tray by brushing it lightly with olive oil and then pour the cake batter into the greased pan.
6. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
7. When the cake has baked, remove from the oven and place, in the baking tray, on a cooling rack. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice, through a sieve (to stop the pips and flesh ending up on the cake), all over the top of the hot cake.
8. Turn the cake out onto the cooling rack, top side up (this may require a couple of moves to get the side that the lemon juice went on to facing upwards). Lightly (as opposed to my heavy hand…) dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and leave to cool before slicing and consuming. You find it easier to clean up if you put a piece of tin foil or greaseproof paper below the cooling rack, to catch stray sugar, before sprinkling on the icing sugar on to the cake.