It’s a weird thing to be a cook. Chef. Whatever you want to call it. I learned early on that you are only as good as your last plate. A truth which is simultaneously freeing and damning. Especially in catering. If your last plate is a home run, you’re left feeling on top of the world until your next event. If it falls flat, well, you carry that around for the next however long until you get to wipe the slate clean. It’s a funny business. Luckily, most of the time I get to experience the former, and this dish from my last event definitely felt like a homer.
Most of the time I trade off between coming up with my own recipes for events and adapting dishes from others. Sometimes I beat myself up about this, thinking that if I was a real chef I’d write all my own recipes. But in my humble opinion, writing recipes and being a cook are two very different skill sets, and recipe development takes a lot of time and experience. Plus, there are so many talented people out there doing it, unless I’m really confident in how something is going to turn out, I like to have a road map. This gorgeous cake is from a recipe developer (and food stylist) I really admire, and I felt nothing but pride serving up her beautiful work to my guests last week.
This cake, and accompanying curd, are such a perfect dish for the end of winter. To me, it’s pure sunshine. Dense, moist, earthy cake that tastes just ever so slightly of olive oil. Sweet, bright citrus in a creamy curd. And the most heavenly dollop of vanilla whipped cream on the side. A few sprigs of fresh mint and some Jacobsen Vanilla Bean Sea Salt are the perfect finishing touch and add such lovely color and texture.
Do yourself a favor and give this one a try. Easy to make and even easier to keep in the fridge and eat every day for a week. Everybody needs a little sunshine in the middle of February!
- Lemon Curd:
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 2 yolks
- 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons, peeled
- Pinch of sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and left at room temperature
- Lemon and olive oil cake:
- 1 cup superfine brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup cane sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup applesauce (I used homemade)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Arbequina olive oil, plus more for pan
- Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean, seeded
- 1 tsp Jacobsen Vanilla Bean Sea Salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Cook the lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until it has reduced in half. This will concentrate the flavor and make the curd much more intense. Let cool.
- Fill a medium saucepan with about 3 inches of water and bring it to a simer. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, zest, salt and reduced lemon juice. Place the bowl over the pot with simmering water and whisk the mixture until it thickens. Immediately strain the curd through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Keep whisking the curd until it cools down a bit. You want it to feel about body temperature.
- Whisk in the pieces of butter so they melt into the curd and create an emulsion. Keep whisking. The curd will be shiny and smooth. Don’t be alarmed if it’s pretty thin, it’ll set up nicely in the fridge.
- Pour in a glass jar and refrigerate. Store in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a loaf pan by rubbing a little bit of oli on the bottoms and sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and zest together. Rub the two between your fingers to release the natural oils in the zest. Add the eggs and whisk together until incorporated. Add the applesauce, lemon juice and olive oil and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour batter in the prepared mold and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so before trying to flip it over. Keep wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Combine ingredients in an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.
- Slice cake and top with a spoonful of curd, whipped cream, a few sprigs of mint, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.