Gluten-Free Lemon Olive Oil Cake

I made this cake a couple weeks ago on an evening when I had the house to myself. The Christmas tree was twinkling, its reflection making the living room windows glow with the light of a hundred fireflies. An old 1960 album was crackling on the record player, filling the air with ageless Christmas carols. I was in the kitchen, singing along to Bing Crosby’s “Frosty the Snowman” and baking the best cake I had ever tasted. I didn’t know this yet, at the time, seeing as I was still in the process of making it.

But an hour later, the house smelling delicious and the album having been turned a couple times, the cake was cool enough for me to try. I watched the knife slice right through its moist yet firm body and raised a slice to my mouth. That first bite hit my senses with such force that I found myself closing my eyes and gasping in startled pleasure. It was, quite literally, the best cake I had ever tasted.

The lemon gives this cake a light playful taste, while the olive oil adds an unexpected depth and just enough moisture to make each bite deliciously melt on your tongue. The consistency is similar to a pound cake, only this Italian-flared version includes no butter. Plain yogurt and extra virgin olive oil are the only ingredients used for moistness.

Sinless heaven.

This makes the best of gifts. It wraps up beautifully and everyone (gluten folks included) will think you handed them a little piece of ecstasy upon trying it. It also makes a wonderful hostess gift for that New Year’s Eve party you’re attending.

Enjoy with friends and deep belly laughs. Tis’ the season of giving!

Gluten-Free Lemon Olive Oil Cake, adapted from Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins & Mindy Fox

1-1/2 cups (210g) gluten-free all purpose mix (I used the Ahern Mix)
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
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 yogurt
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put oven rack in center position and heat oven to 325°F. Lightly oil two 7.5X3.5 baking pans (or a 9-inch springform pan if you want to make one round cake).

Whisk together the gluten-free flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in a medium-sized bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick on high speed (about 5 minutes). Add the lemon zest and yogurt and beat on low speed until well mixed. With mixer on medium speed, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients until just blended (or mix by hand with a whisk).

Divide batter into the two baking pans and place in the middle-rack of oven. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating once at the twenty minute mark. Let sit in pan for a couple minutes before taking cakes out and setting them on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing (or at least until the cake is just warm - I couldn't wait until it was completely cool!).

If making one cake, pour batter in springform pan, bake in middle rack for 40-45 minutes, rotating once.

This is a wonderful cake to share with friends over a cup of tea during an afternoon break.


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