June 30, 2011

Baking with Olive Oil -- Luscious Lemon Yogurt Cake

Homer called it "liquid gold."  Since ancient times, Olive oil has been prized by the people of the Mediterranean, not only for food, but for skin care, medicinal applications, and even religious ones. Like a fine wine, a good olive oil is influenced by the soil on which the olive trees grow, and can have a complex flavor profile with nuances of fruits, nuts and herbs or pepper.  

I've been intrigued by the idea of baking with olive oil -- replacing a flavorless oil like vegetable or canola with more depth, richness, and flavor. I was inspired when Natasha of "5 Minutes Just for Me" adapted a Barefoot Contessa recipe for Lemon Yogurt Cake. I recently made the cake, with a few adaptations of my own, and the results were nothing short of exquisite. 

This Lemon Yogurt Olive Oil Loaf-cake is incredibly moist, rich, but not too heavy, and has the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The nuances of the olive oil definitely come through and harmonize beautifully with the other flavors. If you're a fan of the Starbuck's Lemon Pound Cake, this is a recipe you'll definitely want to try.

Lemon Yogurt Cake -- With Olive Oil
adapted by way of Ina Garten and 5 Minutes Just for Me
Yield:  1 loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
The zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup of a good quality extra virgin olive oil

For the syrup
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

For the glaze
1 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Grease a large loaf pan, then line with parchment paper so that it overhangs the edges of the long sides by a few inches.  This will make it easy to simply lift the loaf out of the pan when it is ready.  Lightly grease the parchment.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Step 1:  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the sugar and eggs until pale yellow.

Step 3:  Add yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla and beat to combine.

Step 4:  Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.  Stir just to combine, so that no white streaks remain.  

Step 5:  With a rubber spatula, gently fold the olive oil in to the batter to incorporate.  

Step 6:  Pour batter in to the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes (until a toothpick or tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean).  Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Step 7:  While cake is cooling, combine the 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is clear.  After cake has cooled for 10 minutes, pour lemon syrup evenly over the entire loaf (while still in pan).  The parchment will help prevent overflow.  Allow the cake to sit for 15 minutes to absorb syrup and continue to cool before removing from pan.

Step 8:  While cake continues to cool, prepare the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice and powdered sugar.  Lift loaf from pan by the parchment.  Remove parchment and set loaf on a serving plate.  Cover top of loaf with glaze and spread evenly with a small offset spatula or butter knife, allowing it to run down the edges.  

Slice and serve.


  1. Sounds like an excellent recipe and I do love so very much love the pricey lemony slice Starbucks sells...I must give this a try (thanks)!

    I'm here from the blog hop and hope you will enjoy my blog too:


  2. My mouth is watering! My MIL loves lemon cake, so I will be trying this one out for sure!

  3. This is soooo very good. I'm just pulling it up for the third round of making it. Everyone loves it. Can't get enough and because of the olive oil I feel just a little less guilty for eating a piece. I've had good luck freezing it after frosting and thawing to eat later.


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