You guys, I flippin’ adore this unique lemon loaf recipe. It’s my new addiction. My new “must send this to the office with my guy because I can’t be trusted home alone with it” cake. Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Yogurt Cake: Deliciously dangerous.
It’s also made with – you guessed it – olive oil. Which may seem like a strange ingredient in a cake, but stick with me here. It’s worth it.
(Incidentally, olive oil cakes aren’t necessarily an uncommon thing. And thank goodness for that.)
As I’ve moved more and more toward whole, clean foods prepared in my own kitchen and farther away from the processed foods I grew up with, I experience these little pings of “that’s not a food!” epiphanies. Like, strawberry Twizzlers, man. Those are SO not food. Or all the freaking “ingredients” that go into an Oreo cookie (and what even *are* those things, anyway?) That’s not to say I don’t eat both of those foods on the very rare occasion; I have and do. But I’m also aware that I’m not necessarily eating what, to me, constitutes actual real food.
Recently, I really started thinking about vegetable oil. What is that? Considering vegetables typically have little to no oil, where does the oil actually come from? It’s not like a bunch of carrots and broccoli and spinach are sent to press like olives are. And if they are … wow. How many vegetables would it take to make one bottle of vegetable oil?!
I did a little research, and it’s tempting to go into it here, but I’ll try to restrain myself. I usually try to keep things on the lighter side. What I did learn, though, is that vegetable oil is typically obtained by pressing various seeds (that makes a little more sense) and then extracting the compounds that make up the actual “vegetable” oil with chemicals. Potentially scary chemicals, actually.
I’ve developed plenty of recipes that call for vegetable oil here on Kitchen Treaty, and I’m not likely to go back and change them or anything. But my little moment of “what IS that?!” concerning vegetable oil will likely result in my generally using different oils, such as coconut oil or olive oil, in my recipes going forward.
Which is my very long-winded explanation of why I decided to try olive oil in my lemon cake. The utterly delicious result, however, is another good reason why I’m going to keep doing it.
I originally wanted to make a lemon yogurt cake to use up some of the homemade yogurt that I made thanks to Julia’s fabulous new book. And then I started eyeing the pretty orange-hued meyer lemons gracing my fruit bowl. And then, in the midst of mixing together the ingredients, I decided, thanks to my new perspective, to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I didn’t even use light olive oil – I went with the strongest-flavored choice, extra virgin olive oil. Livin’ on the edge, that’s how I roll.
For extra lemon goodness, after the cake comes out of the oven, you drizzle a tart lemon syrup on the still-warm cake so that it soaks in and gets even more lusciously lemony. And with that, I have officially used the word “lemon” three times in a sentence – and I wasn’t even talking about Hart of Dixie!
The combination of the syrup, yogurt (two full cups of it!) and olive oil give this cake an incredible big crumb and luxe, super-moist texture. And, yes, you can taste the olive oil if you go with extra virgin – I love it and think it’s a fine companion for the sweet-but-tart meyer lemon, but if you’re not sure, try it with a lighter olive oil. You don’t taste as much of that green-y olive oil flavor that way. Either way – good stuff.
Just be warned, though – if you’re a weakling like me, it is TOUGH staying away from this one!
Meyer Lemon Yogurt Olive Oil Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (divided)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon grated meyer lemon zest (from 2-3 meyer lemons)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup olive oil (I like the taste that extra virgin gives the cake; if you'd like a milder taste, consider a lighter olive oil)
For the syrup:
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 meyer lemons, but it can really depend on how juicy they are)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a large loaf pan - approximately 8 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir with a whisk until incorporated, and then fold in the oil. Stir until well-incorporated.
- Pour into the baking pan and cook for 50 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. Place the 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar into a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- Set a wire cooling rack over paper towels or into a baking sheet to catch drips. Carefully loosen the sides of the cake and flip the pan upside down over the wire rack to remove the loaf. Carefully flip the loaf so that it is sitting right side up on the wire rack.
- Now, while the cake is warm, spoon the syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Let cool for one hour.
- Make the glaze. Place the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir with a fork until combined. Spoon over the top of the cake. Let sit for several minutes until mostly hardened.
- Slice and serve. Cake keeps in an airtight container or zipper bag at room temperature for 3 - 4 days. To freeze, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to freezer. Allow to thaw for a couple of hours at room temperature before serving.