It is probably no surprise to learn that I love to watch cooking shows. One of my favorites is called Lidia’s Italy which features award-winning chef and restauranteur Lidia Bastianich who specializes in Italian and Italian-American cuisine. Of course, Lidia is an excellent cook, but she is also quite a wonderful story-teller. Many of her recipes come from her Italian background and she usually has some memories or stories to go with each one.
I have two of her cookbooks and have tried quite a few of her recipes which have always been amazing, but one recipe that I have skipped over numerous times is for Olive Oil Cake. Somehow, that just didn’t appeal to me, so I never tried it. Then last week, I happened to see her show and she was making that cake. She talked about how every Italian family had their own olive trees and how important those trees were because they provided the olive oil for the family. It was a huge job to harvest and then press the olives for the oil and everyone in the family helped.
She says cakes made with olive oil are especially light in texture. This recipe has the usual ingredients, eggs, sugar, flour and flavorings, and after she showed the final result and took the necessary TV bite, I couldn’t wait to make an olive oil cake!
I did make that cake, and I can tell you, it is one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted! It is very light and airy with just a subtle hint of the lemon and orange zest in it. It doesn’t need icing, just a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries will do. I hope you don’t wait as long as I did before you try it!
Lidia’s Olive Oil Cake
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more for the cake pan
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the cake pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs, plus 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Grated zest of 1 small orange
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and dust with flour. Place a circle of parchment in the bottom. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and beat on high until firm peaks form, about 7 minutes.
- In a clean mixer bowl, combine the whole eggs, remaining ¾ cup sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla. Whisk on high until foamy, about 1 minute. On low, add half of the flour mixture, then all of the olive oil, finishing with the remaining flour. Remove the bowl and add about a third of the egg whites and gently fold into the batter. Mix in by hand to lighten the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with sugar.
- Bake until puffed and tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool completely. (I set the timer for 25 minutes because I was using a 9-inch pan. It was almost done, so I would check at the 25-minute mark because you don’t want to overcook a cake.)
Note: To add the flour mixture to the batter in the bowl, roll the parchment paper that has the flour mixture on it, into a cone so you can easily add it into the bowl with the batter. This is so much easier than trying to pour it from a bowl. This old dog just learned a new trick!
– Becky Lynn is a writer for EllisDownHome.com. She and her husband Bob enjoy spending time with their 8 grandchildren and traveling. Becky loves cranking up the music and heading to the kitchen to try out new recipes or cook for an upcoming party. She is passionate about continuing to be a life-long learner!