“Today you are the youngest you will ever be.” Nate said this to me casually over breakfast on a lazy, beautiful Saturday, but it didn’t soften the blow. It was disarming, as are most things that are undeniably true. “That’s depressing” was my immediate response. “No, it’s hopeful,” was his. And he is right.
It is hopeful and empowering, and a thought I’ll hold with me over the coming days, weeks and years. Today I’m leaving my job – the only one I’ve ever had – in search of something. I’m not exactly sure what that is or if I’ll be better off or worse for it, but I’m takings risks to make room for discovery and if that’s not a good way to celebrate youth then I’m not sure what is.
Spring is a good time for change, and it’s always a good time for cake. I made this one over the weekend to celebrate my new adventure. It’s a quiet cake, one for tea and contemplation. It combines the nuttiness of olive oil and flowery tang of meyer lemons with just a brush of sea salt. Reminds me of a bright day in the South of France. Perfect for dreaming. And, it also happens to be perfectly in season.
LEMON OLIVE OIL CAKE ~ from One Girl Cookies makes one 9-inch cake
- 1 cup cake flour
- zest of 2 meyer lemons
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3 ½ tablespoons fresh meyer lemon juice
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (coarse sea salt)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Use a tablespoon of unsalted butter to grease the inside of a 9-inch cake pan.
- Combine the cake flour and lemon zest in a bowl. You may need to use your hands to break up the zest and ensure it’s evenly distributed throughout the flour.
- Whisk the egg yolks with about ½ cup of the granulated sugar for a few minutes until it is a soft yellow mixture. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and blend for another minute. Gently fold in the flour mixture.
- Using a large, very clean bowl, beat the egg whites for a few seconds until they are frothy and foamy – this usually takes less than a minute. Add the table salt and the rest of the granulated sugar and continue to whip with the electric mixer until the whites form stiff white peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the batter and mix gently until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Top with the sea salt and turbinado sugar.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 20-25 minutes. The cake will be done when golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.