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Repurpose one of your favorite savory ingredients for a cake that’s simple yet sophisticated

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One of the most attractive aspects of making a cake with oil rather than butter is the way it expedites the mixing process: There’s no waiting for butter to come to room temperature and then beating it with sugar before you even start to add the rest of the ingredients. The batter is ready to go into the oven in 5 minutes flat, and the cake comes out just 40 minutes later.

With many oil-based cakes, you simply whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk the wet ingredients in another, and then combine the contents of the two bowls. The dry ingredients were all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt, and the wet ingredients were eggs, milk and olive oil. Also on the list: sugar and lemon zest.

We wanted our olive oil cake to have a light, fine-textured and plush crumb, with a subtle but noticeable olive oil flavor. Whipping the sugar with the whole eggs, rather than just the whites, produced a fine texture that was airy but sturdy enough to support the olive oil–rich batter. To emphasize the defining flavor, we opted for a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil and supplemented its fruitiness with a tiny bit of lemon zest.

A bit of advice: Don’t panic when it puffs. The cake will puff up during baking, but don’t worry. This is just air released by the cake batter getting trapped beneath the layer of melted sugar, which adds a crackly-sweet crust for a touch of sweetness and sophistication. The cake will settle once it cools.

Olive Oil Cake

Serves 8 to 10


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs


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