Lemon, Poppy Seed & Olive Oil Cake

March 14, 2018
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This is an adaptation of an old favorite: Maialino's Olive Oil Cake. The original includes Grand Marnier, orange juice, and orange zest. This version opts for limoncello, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lots of poppy seeds. If you can't find limoncello, you can substitute lemon juice, but the flavor won't be as punchy. Top with a lemony glaze or powdered sugar or nothing at all. Maybe serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche. Or, the morning after, toast a slice and smear with butter. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes 1 bundt cake
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft, for the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 5 lemons, zested
  • 6 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously butter a Bundt pan (we used a 10-cup capacity). Add a scoop of flour and tap around the pan to distribute, then shake out any excess.
  2. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Pinch together with your fingertips until the sugar starts to blush yellow and is super fragrant. (This releases the oils and amps up the flavor.) Add the flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk until smooth. In another bowl, combine the olive oil, milk, eggs, lemon juice, and limoncello. Whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour, until a thin serrated knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is bouncy to the touch.
  4. Wait until the pan is cool enough to pick up without burning yourself, then flip onto a plate or cake stand. Let cool completely—at least a few hours—before glazing or powdered sugaring.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.