This simple lemon loaf cake is exceptionally moist, tender, and flavorful thanks to olive oil, lemon oil, and a generous blanket of tart lemon glaze.
"Just made the famous Lemon Loaf Cake. Sooooo good. The cake has a lightness I didn’t expect. Next time I will order some lemon oil. I used lemon extract, but I could use more lemon flavor in the cake. Great recipe!!!!!!!!"-Randy
Iced Lemon Olive Oil Loaf Cake
In my version of a perfect world, we would always have a freshly baked cake on hand when someone stopped by unexpectedly or on those afternoons when I'm feeling sluggish and craving something sweet. Nothing fancy. Something like this Lemon Loaf Cake, or perhaps a pound cake, or berry snack cake.
This, of course, rarely happens. But, the idea is honestly not that far out of reach.
Loaf cakes are one of those simple things that you can sometimes make on a whim, quickly, for no other reason than to satisfy a craving for cake.
It takes only about 20 minutes to mix up the batter for this lemon loaf cake. It's sweet, but not overly so. Bright and lemony. Tender and perfectly sliceable. Appropriate to to eat with your fingers or with a plate and fork.
Not only does the cake come together quickly, it will stay fresh and delicious for days. It's simpler to make (though perhaps not quite as pretty) as Lemon Ricotta Cakes or Mini Lime Pound Cakes, but no less delicious.
Why I love to bake with olive oil
Olive Oil's fruity flavor is a perfect match for a wide variety of cakes, cookies, and other desserts. But, I particularly like it with anything lemon.
Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Cream is one of my all-time favorite desserts and I've yet to serve it to anyone who didn't feel the same. Unlike neutral tasting oils like canola or vegetable oil, olive oil adds a subtle depth of flavor in cakes that makes them more interesting.
In addition, oil based cakes tend to bake up loftier, have a more even crumb, and stay fresh for much longer than butter based recipes. Since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil-based cakes is lighter as well.
And, because oil is comprised of 100% fat (American butter is 80% fat, 5% milk solids and 15% water), the texture of oil-based cakes are noticeably more soft and tender.
The most important thing to know about using oil in cakes is that must be added slowly.
By nature, fat and liquid are unmixable. This presents a problem when making cake batter because nearly every kind of cake includes some kind of liquid and some kind of fat.
The solution is to create an emulsion – a situation in which tiny droplets of a liquid are dispersed in a fat. Certain substances, like egg yolks, act as emulsifiers. This means that when agitated, they help fat and liquid come together and stay together.
Just like in this recipe for Hummingbird Cupcakes, this cake uses eggs to bind oil and sugar together into a smooth, even batter.
- Beat eggs and sugar tighter until they are light and fluffy.
- Then, pour the oil into the batter very slowly, in a thin steady stream, while the mixer continues to beat.
This creates an emulsion, with the eggs and sugar uniformly dispersed within the fat molecules.
Since sugar isn’t dissolvable in oil, dissolving it in the eggs before adding the oil creates an even distribution between elements that don’t normally like to mix. The method ensures that plenty of air is incorporated into the cake batter and gives the baked cake a super soft, tender crumb.
What is Lemon Oil?
Lemon oil is a great addition to your pantry, but be aware that there are two very different, kinds of lemon oil.
One is olive oil that's been infused with lemon either by including lemon with the olives when they are cold pressed, or by gently heating olive oil with lemon peel to infuse it with lemon flavor. This kind of lemon oil is fantastic in salad dressing, pasta dishes, or simply drizzled over grilled meat or veggies. But, it's not the kind of lemon oil you want to use in baking.
For the most part I think lemon oil has a much better flavor than lemon extract. Also, because lemon oil is so concentrated, you only need to use a little bit to achieve a strong lemon flavor. In general, ⅛ teaspoon lemon oil is equal to 1 teaspoon lemon extract, or 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
So, to achieve a tender, fluffy cake with strong lemon flavor, lemon oil is the best option.
How to Store this Lemon Loaf Cake
As I mentioned earlier, cakes made with oil stay fresh much longer than cakes made with butter. So, this cake will keep well at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. Stored tightly wrapped the refrigerator, it will keep for up to 5 days.
You can also freeze this cake as a whole or in slices for up to 3 months. To freeze the whole loaf, wrap it in a couple layers of plastic wrap then in a layer or two of aluminum foil. To freeze individual slices, wrap each slice in plastic wrap then stack the slices inside a freezer zip top bag.
Defrost the cake, or individual slices of cake, in the refrigerator overnight. Or simply set it out, still wrapped, on the countertop for a few hours.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
- 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (223g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (118ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (use the juice of the lemon for the glaze)
- 1 ½ - 2 tsp lemon oil (*see note below)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8oz/ 227g) full-fat sour cream
- 1 ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp table salt (1tsp kosher salt)
For the tart lemon glaze:
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with a generous amount of non-stick spray. Alternativly, coat the inside of the pan with butter or vegetable shortening.
- Beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar with an elecric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running, slowly pour the olive oil into the egg-sugar mixture in a thin, steady stream. Be sure to add the olive oil very slowly, with the mixer running the entire time.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the lemon zest, lemon oil, vanilla, and sour cream. In a seperate bowl, stir the four, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk to combine.
- Add the sour cream and flour mixtures to the batter in alternating additions: ⅓ of the flour, ½ the sour cream, ⅓ of the flour, ½ of the sour cream, ⅓ of the flour. After each addition, mix on low just long enough to barely incorporate the ingredients. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 53-60 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick insterted in the center comes out without any sign of raw batter.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 - 10 minutes, then gently turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before glazing.
Make the Lemon Glaze:
- With a wire whisk, stir the lemon juice and powdered sugar together in a small bowl until the glaze is smooth. Pour over the top of the lemon loaf cake so that it coats the top of the cake completely and drips down the cake's sides.
How much lemon oil should you use?
Because lemon oil is so concentrated, it gives this cake a pronounced lemon flavor. I usually use 2 tsp lemon oil because I like a strong lemon flavor. If you prefer a more subtle lemon flavor, use 1 ½ tsp or less.
You can also substitute lemon extract and/or lemon zest for the lemon oil. In general, ⅛ teaspoon lemon oil = 1 teaspoon lemon extract = 1 teaspoon zest.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: ⅛ of the cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 327mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 7g