If one's mental and emotional state in any way infuses the food one cooks (and, how could it not?), this would be called "wild barbarian summer evening cake" as opposed to "languid summer afternoon cake." The latter seems a bit more appealing, calm, and aligned, right? Who doesn't want to eat cake made in the same conditions in which it is meant to be eaten? Unhurried. Lovely...
But, we are living our lives here, and sometimes shifting into a beastly goal-pursuing-get-it-done mode is the only available choice. I will assure you that this cake was eaten in a true serene manner, with tea, the company of a sweet partner donning post-dinner-cake-eyes, warm socks, and a cool summer breeze. I highly recommend that you enjoy it this way as well. Regardless of the alluded-to craze, it turns out that this particular summer evening eventually did the final product well, as the final outcome (admittedly two cakes later...) has a bright lemon flavor with earthy lavender notes, a "pound-cake-perfect" crumb, extra moist and tart in the spots where the syrup absorbs most, and a sweetness that is beautifully balanced. It isn't too sweet at all.
Getting to the story of the cake. Marcio has been itching for lemon cake for the past few weeks, and I've been inspired to make an herbaceous olive oil version. Though, week after week, we've run into barriers. Certainly not impossible-to-navigate barriers, but barriers nonetheless. First time around, I made the mistake of planning to make it after our drive home from a Block Island weekend away when we still had grocery shopping, dinner, and prepping for next week to take care of. Didn't happen. The second time I planned to make it, we ran out of our shelf olive oil and misplaced out backup stock (it's a very strange experience to misplace this staple. It turned out to be in the coffee cabinet. We're organized, I promise). And our third attempt was much like the first time. We spent the day going to brunch, Verizon, and doing a little real estate re-con. By the time we got home, had dinner, and fed our little fur babies, we were exhausted. I fell asleep on the couch within the hour.
But today - Sunday - is the day, my friends. They say third time is the charm, but I'm ready to see fourth time in action.
However... (I know, I know...) even I write this, I'm a little conscientious to mention that today is perhaps a risky day to make this commitment because I am meeting my two best friends at the beach (with families, full work schedules, and summer we just haven't made it work until this weekend, so despite the 60% chance of rain, we are thrilled to be meeting up...I actually have to get going in a few minutes here). But, before I go...I'm curious...do you ever find yourself putting something off for what feels like such a long period of time (I'm sure you must), and as a result become so determined to not-put-it-off-any-longer that you begin to attempt to squeeze it into completely unrealistic time slots? Well. This might be happening over here. There is a part of me that is doubting this cake will happen today. But, I'm telling you. It will. Fourth time, my friends...fourth time. And while you'll be reading this blog post strait through, I'll be returning here in 10 or so hours to be perfectly honest as to whether I've actually completed said goal. Hopefully, I'll be stepping into my overly intense pants, and making this cake!
Twelve and a half hours later, 9PM, Sunday.
My bags are still packed and I wouldn't say that I feel as organized as I typically do for next week (which is a busy one, so we'll see how that goes), but my cake is in the oven. I feel completely filled up by my time with my girls, and tired for all of the most satisfying and important reasons.
My cake turned out to be good, but a bit too eggy, a bit dense, and the lavender was overwhelmed by the lemon. So. Not the cake. But a valid cake, nevertheless. I fell asleep happily inspired and determined to transform tomorrow's lunch break into another episode of lemon cake-making.
9PM. Monday night.
If you're still reading, I'm grateful that I've kept your attention for this long! It is, as stated above, 9PM on Monday evening, and M and I are currently digesting the most delicious lemon cake we've ever had. Am I allowed to say that? It might have been luck, though I attribute it to the inspired Bon Appetit olive oil cake recipe that I adjusted. Either way, if you love citrus, a moist crumb, and you are into a little audacious herbaciousness (yes I did) - you must bake this cake.
Lemon Lavender Olive Oil Cake
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c almond flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
1/3 c finely grated lemon zest
3/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
Lemon Lavender Syrup
1/8 c sugar
1/3 c filtered water
1 tsp honey
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp dried lavender (ground)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat your pan with oil and use your fingers to coat. Create a parchment paper "hammock" and smooth to eliminate air bubbles. Whisk cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine and eliminate any lumps.
Using an electric mixer on high speed (use whisk attachment if working with a stand mixer), beat eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is very light, about 3 minutes if using a stand mixer and about 5 minutes if using a hand mixer. With mixer still on high speed, gradually stream in your olive oil and beat until incorporated and mixture is thicker. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions. Remove when combined. Fold lavender into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake until top is golden brown, center is firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–50 minutes.
While your cake is cooking, prepare your syrup. Add your sugar to your water and heat until crystals have dissolved. Add honey and continue to warm until it reduces a tad. This syrup will be more watery than "syrupy", which will help your cake absorb it like a sponge.
Transfer your cake pan to a wire rack and allow it to begin to cool. While your cake is still warm, lift it out of the pan using your hammock and place it on a platter, cracked side face up. Poke holes over the top of your cake with a toothpick and drizzle your syrup over the top, allowing it to collect in your cake's rivulets as well as drip down the sides so it can absorb at the base.
Allow your cake a few moments to absorb the syrup, but no need to wait very long. Eat with a loved one as soon as you'd like! Our cake sat for about an hour before we cut into it.
This cake would be beautiful in either a 9 x 5 (as I prepared it) or a bundt (though the cracks that occur in the 9 x 5 form perfect pools for your syrup to soak in), and can be enjoyed anytime. I envision it as being the perfect addition to any brunch-y spread or tea dinner.