Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Gourmet, Unbound: April

Posted: March 31, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

I’m not typically good with cakes. My cakes taste fine, of course. But they never look quite right. My layer cakes stick, or I end up trying to patch them together with frosting. My everyday cakes are nice enough, but they never come out quite light enough for me. In general, my cakes are competent, but not complete.

This cake….. is different. This cake is light. Airy. Full of lemon flavor. This cake didn’t stick to the pan. It didn’t fall apart, it wasn’t overly sweet. This cake has no baking powder in it. It has some negative comments, where people say that the cake is too savory, too olive-oily, too eggy. Some commenters mention their cakes falling, or slumping, their guests being confused, or finding it unpleasant.

They are all wrong. Incorrect. Fully, totally entirely wrong.

Gourmet April 2006′s Lemon Olive-Oil Cake is light. Lemony. Moist. It’s one of those situations where you mix together seemingly innocent ingredients — lemon zest and juice, flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks. I added some chopped thyme, because lemon and thyme are a match made in heaven. Egg whites are whipped to soft peaks, combined with more sugar, and folded in. The whole cake is baked in an oiled springform pan, which means that the sides don’t stick. It also means that even if you don’t have any parchment paper in your house, as long as you oil the bottom of your springform, the cake’s high olive oil content means it won’t stick. In fact, the egg whites make it the lightest cake I’ve ever made.

I topped this cake with a quick glaze made of lemon juice and powdered sugar, and if I had to make the cake again, I would absolutely use the juice of a full half of the lemon, to punch it up a little. Otherwise, the glaze makes it just citrusy enough, so I would suggest making a lot of it.

This cake may have changed my cake fate. At the very least, it has encouraged me to try adding beaten egg whites to all the cakes that I make from now on. So thanks again, Gourmet, for giving me a little more faith in my cake-baking skills.


5 Comments on “Gourmet, Unbound: April”

  1. 1 Bakezilla said at 3:53 pm on April 1, 2010:

    Yum! Looks so good. Love the glaze!

  2. 2 Adi said at 2:04 pm on April 5, 2010:

    I have a confession–you know how my cakes are never quite right? Well. I also can’t fold. I mean…I guess I CAN, but.. it never quite works. I hate it. I fold once a year or so and every time I do it I swear I never will again. I always feel like I’m flattening too much or not combining enough. There’s no in-between for me! So brava, darling. To make a cake which requires folding, and to have it come out divine, is my holy grail. And you, dear, have achieved it. (And dayyyyyyyyyyyum does it look good!)

  3. 3 Joh said at 10:30 pm on April 5, 2010:

    Adi – The folding is really really easy. The egg whites are really forgiving, and the whole thing is totally do-able. You come down and hang out in my kitchen – we’ll make the overnight chocolate chip cookies, we’ll whip eggwhites and fold them into things, it’ll be phenomenal! :)

  4. 4 Mrs. L said at 5:44 pm on April 19, 2010:

    I keep seeing recipes for Olive Oil cakes but have yet to try my hand at one. So glad this worked out, I’ll have to give it a try!

  5. 5 Joh said at 12:41 pm on April 21, 2010:

    Mrs L. — the cake is DIVINE. I was a little nervous about the whole “Olive Oil Cake” concept, but seriously? I’ve had to fight the urge at least every 4 days to make it again.

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.