13 July 2008

Ligurian Lemon Cake

I love to cruise through baking books at the library. For one, baking books tend to be much weightier and also, much more expensive than your average cookbook. I also tend to either love or hate a baking book. So for me, the best way to give a baking book a test run is to pick it up at the library.

That's how I was introduced to this gem, Desserts by Pierre Herme. I have several more recipes that I want to try out of this sucker, so it might get checked out again next month.

I wanted to start out easy, since investing a ton of time and energy into a crap dessert is not my idea of a good time. This lemon cake sounded good, nice and summery. Plus, the whole olive oil angle had my curious. How would it change the texture and taste of a lemon cake?

Ina's version is my usual go-to lemon cake recipe, I've made it several times so figured I'd have a good enough memory to notice the difference. One immediate difference I can tell you, is that the lemon seems more subtle. Then again, I didn't have to use 8 lemons to make this beauty... But aside from that, it was much lighter than the average lemon cake, almost pillowy in texture, and much more moist. And the flavor - it tasted almost creamy, if that makes sense. Very neat little recipe. And hey, any way to get it at least a little healthier is good in my book.

I made teeny little cakes in ramekins rather than a large cake in a round; if you go this route, just cut your cooking time to about 20-25 minutes (keep an eye on them). Hermé recommends a meringue topping to this cake, but the purist that I am, I served them without. Believe me when I say they are still quite lovely that way.
Ligurian Lemon Cake

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, very finely chopped
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 Tbsp. milk, room temperature
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 F; with rack in center. Butter a 10-inch round cake or springform pan, dust with flour, and tap out any excess. (I used a 12-cups muffin pan)

In a large bowl, sift flour and baking powder; set aside.

Place sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer; rub the ingredients together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and has absorbed as much of the zest as possible. Return bowl to mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, beat in eggs on medium high until the mixture is pale and thick, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on lowest speed, beat in milk. Add reserved flour mixture; beat until incorporated. Add lemon juice, melted butter, and olive oil; beat until blended.

Pour about one third of the batter into the prepared pan; there should be just enough batter to form a thin, even layer. Arrange the raspberries on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the raspberries, and use a rubber spatula to gently spread batter so that it runs down between the berries and just covers them (you’ll have a very thin top layer of batter).

Bake cake until it’s golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 33 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately unmold it onto a wire rack. Invert cake so it is right side up, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the cake is ready to serve or to decorate with meringue.


dobetter said...

Looks heavenly! Lovely photos, as always.

Ann said...

If it tastes as good as it looks you have a winner!

David Hall said...

Hi Nemmie, 1st time over here. After doing a search for roast tomato tart I found your Blog - very good!

All the best

Brilynn said...

Your little cakes look delightful! I definitely need to have a look at this book...

Patricia Scarpin said...

Nemmie, with lemon and raspberries, who needs meringue?