Lemon Olive Oil Cake


Though its ingredient list is long, this is one of those cakes that your guests will think you whipped together just in time for their arrival. It's a complexly flavored treat that looks deceptively rustic and unfussy. The outside is sugary crisp and cracks when you fork into it. The inside is moist and sweet, and the hint of lemon makes it the perfect finish for a spring or summer dinner.

We had this as dessert at the end of a farm crew family lunch and everyone was blown away. 

A great cake to eat all by itself, but it would not be hurt by the addition of a dollop of vanilla ice cream or lemon or raspberry sorbet or a drizzle of a warm blueberry sauce. This cake also gets better the longer it sits and will last on the counter top, wrapped in plastic wrap for 4 days. 



1¼ cups olive oil; plus more for pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar; plus more for pan
2 cups cake flour
⅓ cup fine-grind cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
3 TBSP Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, or other liqueur
1 TBSP finely grated lemon zest
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Special Equipment

A 9"-diameter springform pan



Preheat oven to 400°.

Drizzle bottom and sides of pan with oil and use your fingers to coat. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and smooth to eliminate air bubbles; coat parchment with more oil. Generously sprinkle pan with sugar and tilt to coat in an even layer; tap out excess.

Whisk cake flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine and eliminate any lumps. In a small bowl, stir together amaretto, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer on high speed (use whisk attachment if working with a stand mixer), beat eggs, lemon zest, and 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until mixture is very light, thick, pale, and falls off the whisk or beaters in a slowly dissolving ribbon, about 3 minutes if using a stand mixer and about 5 minutes if using a hand mixer. With mixer still on high speed, gradually stream in 1¼ cups oil and beat until incorporated and mixture is even thicker. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with amaretto mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fold batter several times with a large rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of bowl. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with more sugar.

Place cake in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 350°. Bake until top is golden brown, center is firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edges of cake and remove ring from pan. Slide cake onto rack and let cool completely. For the best flavor and texture, wrap cake in plastic and let sit at room temperature at least a day before serving.