This recipe was adapted from Maialino's Olive Oil Cake, which uses a simple mix-dry-mix-wet technique. I omitted the liqeur, beat the eggs and sugar together to get more air into the cake, and substituted lemon zest and juice for the original’s orange. I also replaced a small amount of the oil for applesauce. The result? A cake that's still moist but a tad less sweet and a bit fluffy.
If you want more of a lemon ka-pow, use a full lemon's zest.
Update: I've been told by two different people that this tastes like pan de elote (a sweet cornbread) and magdalenas (a Spanish sweet bread). Two very different things but both compliments, so I'll gladly accept them. —Victor Huerta
1 standard bundt cake
(250g) All-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups
(250g) Granulated sugar (and a little for sprinkling over the pan)
Grease a cake pan with oil spray. I used a bundt cake pan but you could use a 9x9 pan, since the original recipe calls for that.
Sprinkle granulated sugar all around the pan. This helps dislodge the cake when it comes out of the oven (thanks, Claire Saffitz, for this tip!). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
To a small bowl, add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix with a fork.
In a cup or bowl that you can easily pour from, combine the applesauce and olive oil. The applesauce will clump in the mixture and look pretty gnarly. Don’t worry about it - you’ll just scrape it out later.
In a separate cup, combine the milk and lemon juice. Stir.
To a larger mixing bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until it's well combined.
Add the three eggs to the mixing bowl and beat until well combined; ideally, you want the mixture to be airy and lighter in color.
While continuing to beat the mixture, slowly stream in the oil-applesauce mixture; get all that applesauce in there!
Once combined, mix in the lemon juice and the milk.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. The batter should be very soupy.
Pour into the greased pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how hot your oven runs). The top should have some browning and a stick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
Once removed from the oven, let cool for about fifteen minutes before running a knife around the edges of the pan (and the center if using a bundt pan) and inverting. You could wait for it to completely cool before cutting it...but I cut it after 20 minutes.