This Olive Oil cake is moist and flavorful, with a soft, tender crumb that’s not too sweet. perfectly delicious all on it’s own, completely unadorned aside from its crackling sugary top. But, split in half and filled with a thick layer of lemon mascarpone cream transforms this simple, unassuming cake into something special.
FOR THE MASCARPONE CREAM FILLING:
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 2 tsp cold water
- 1 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 8 oz mascarpone (or 4 oz cream cheese), at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract (orange extract is also delicious)
FOR THE OLIVE OIL CAKE:
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup plus another 1/4 cup granulated sugar for sprinkling on the top of the cake
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
MAKE THE MASCARPONE CREAM FILLING:
- In a small dish, stir the gelatin and water together to combine. There should be just enough water to moisten the gelatin, creating a thick paste. Set aside.
- Add milk, sugar, salt, egg yolks and cornstarch to a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, at which point the mixture will have thickened to the point that the whisk will leave tracks as you stir. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds longer. Pour into a bowl.
- Break the gelatin into small pieces, dropping them into the hot cream. Whisk until the gelatin is completely incorporated, about 20 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap over the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Add the chilled cream to the bowl of an electric mixer along with the mascarpone and vanilla and lemon extracts. Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream with the mascarpone on medium-high speed until completely combined and smooth. Taste and add more lemon extract if you want a stronger lemon flavor. The mascarpone cream is now ready to use. If not using it right away, cover and refrigerate the cream for up to 2 days.
MAKE THE OLIVE OIL CAKE:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable shorting.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until frothy. Add 1 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon zest and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Continue to beat until the olive oil is completely incorporated.
- Turn off the mixer and add half the flour. Beat on low just until the flour is mostly incorporated into the batter. Add the milk and continue to mix on low speed just until the milk is incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and beat on low just until incorporated. Stir with a rubber spatula to make sure there isn’t any unmixed flour along the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and place in the center of the oven. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the top of the batter in an even layer. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without evidence of raw batter.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely, then run a flat metal spatula or table knife around the inside the sides of the pan. Remove the side of the pan.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two layers, placing the top layer on a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Spread the lemon mascarpone filling evenly over the bottom layer of cake, smoothing it out into a flat layer. Carefully lift the top portion of cake and place over the mascarpone cream.
- The cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving, wrapped in plastic wrap.