While at the party, I asked Alia Hanna Habib, the book's publicist, which dessert she thought I should excerpt from the book. The Plum Sorbetto? The Coffee Cardamom Crème Caramel? Alia told me that while they were all exquisite, her favorite recipe was for Lemon Olive Oil Cake. It's simple (she often whips it up in the morning before work) yet sophisticated (even impressed a friend visiting from Italy). Plus, it's versatile: perfect for dinner parties, and for breakfast the next morning.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake is similar to pound cake, except that the fat used is olive oil instead of butter. Surprisingly, this lends the finished cake an even richer texture. While many renditions of olive oil cake call for milk, Sara uses whole milk yogurt, which imparts a subtle tang. The success of this cake depends wholly on the olive oil, so use top-quality extra-virgin.
- Yield:one 9-inch round cake, about 10 servings
- 3/4 extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
- Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
Put oven rack in center position and heat oven to 325ºF. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on high speed for 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Add yogurt zest; beat to combine. With mixer on medium speed, add oil in a quick steady stream. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture just until blended. Whisk batter by hand to make sure that all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour batter into pan. Bake, rotating pan once, until cake is golden, center springs back to touch, and edges pull away from pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for a minute or two on rack, then release from pan and cool completely before slicing.