The problem with having a hot-headed oven? Your cakes always end up browner on top than intended... especially if you're as forgetful as me and forget to shift your oven rack a notch or two below the middle.
Do you see the brownness? Sigh.
Actually, despite the dark brown top, this olive oil lemon cake (taken from Gourmet magazine, 2006) turned out superbly. Wonderfully soft, remarkably light, deliciously lemony, gorgeously moist and delightfully bright ... ok, enough with the superlatives. It's tasty. And really soft. And lemony. You like? I do.
As the name suggests, the cake uses olive oil instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil if you prefer a more profound taste of olive oil. I opted for regular olive oil as I craved the texture the product brought to the cake, not so much the taste (though I do love the flavour of olive oil).
Though olive oil helps keep this cake moist, unlike butter (butter when creamed with the sugar) the oil does not have any properties of a leaven. As a result, this cake gets it's rise from carefully whipped egg whites. Just an extra step, not much of a bother and well worth the result
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1 cup superfine flour (or measure 1 cup all purpose flour, then take away 2 tbsp of it and replace with corn flour)
1 large lemon
5 eggs (separated; reserve 1 egg white for some other use — like an egg white omelet, maybe?)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar + 11/2 tbsp to be kept aside
Preheat the oven to 180C with the rack in the middle. Unless your oven is like mine and is extremely hot on top — in which case adjust the rack one notch below the middle.
Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with baking paper. Grease the paper lightly.
Zest the lemon and add 1/2 tsp (or 3/4 tsp if you really like a lemon flavour in your cake) and add it to the flour. Cut the lemon and squeeze 11/2 tbsp juice for the cake. Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks and the 1/2 cup sugar (yes, just 1/2 cup from the 3/4 cup you measured) on high speed until thick and pale. Reduce to medium speed and add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix till all the ingredients are incorporated well. Remove bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour using a wooden spoon. You should have a thick batter. Set aside.
Whisk the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whisk on high speed until the whites hold soft peaks (3-5 mins).
Add 1/3 of the whites into the batter, folding in gently with a spatula. Add the remaining whites, once again being gentle when folding them in.
Transfer the batter (now quite light) into the greased springform pan. Gently tap the pan on your counter/table to even the batter out. Sprinkle the 11/2 tbsp sugar on the surface of the cake. Bake for 35-40 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean.