Lemon Olive Oil Cake
with Cardamom Cream

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom Cream

It was the peak of citrus season in Southern California I wasn’t getting any! Since I didn’t get any last year I was having quite a dry spell. There is nobody is more appreciative of my fruit tree growing friends’ largesse than I am but it was once again looking as if another season was passing us over for neighborly citrus gifts. The years past usually brought bumper crops of neighborhood citrus: clementines, moro “blood” oranges, grapefruits and my absolute favorite garden gift — Meyer lemons. Much to my chagrin (and sorrow) last year was a citrus dud and my mind raced with possible reasons for the unfortunate shortfall.

Was it something I said? Perhaps I forgot to properly express my appreciation for that last bag-o-lemons? Maybe I shouldn’t have flirted so brazenly with her husband at the barbeque last fall?

This past summer it had seemed as if I couldn’t go outside without someone trying to give me their zucchini. This gave me some hope that I was once again in position to receive citrus come citrus season. Hopefully whatever imaginary slights I had worried about were either that, imaginary, or forgotten. And yet as late as two weeks ago it wasn’t looking all that good for me as far as citrus was concerned. The weeks were passed by and not even a single grapefruit. It seemed as if my citrus growers were not putting out!

I was desperate for the attentions of a manly lemon bar a few weeks ago so I broke down and bought a single Meyer lemon at the supermarket. No sooner do I do that when quite suddenly my luck changed and I had more neighborly citrus attention than I knew what to do with.

I wonder why? Perhaps the tree owners were tired of being awoken at night by the loud dull thuds of juicy ripe citrus fruits falling to the ground…the only viable solution being to harvest their cherished fruits and give them away? To me. Maybe she realized that my flirtations are quite harmless and are actually a compliment to HER good taste in men? Maybe I think too much?

Whatever it was I was certainly grateful for it (and made extra sure to let them know so) as I received huge baskets full of blood oranges and several shopping bags full of Meyer lemons and grapefruit. It was time to play! (…and drink Greyhounds!) What was once bleak turned into a citrus-a-palooza.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom Cream

This light and yummy cake came about when I needed a simple but effective desert for a Sunday dinner that entered dinner party territory when extra family joined us. I really enjoy these simple cakes which use egg whites as the leavening – they have an elegant,rustic aesthetic and who can argue with a cake that needs no further decorating once it is out of the oven? . (Check out Dorie’s double chocolate mousse cake for another tasty example of this.)

I had no time to go shopping but… when life gives you Meyer lemons… make cake.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom Cream

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom Cream

(Cake adapted from The Food Librarian; cardamom cream inspired by Greg at Sippity Sup!)

This is what you will need:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
  • 1 or 2 lemons (I used Meyer) You will need 1 Tablespoon Zest and 2 Tablespoons of the juice. A large lemon can get you this but I needed two
  • 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • For the cream:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • a teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

This is how you make it:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  3. Oil parchment.
  4. Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 tablespoon and whisk together with flour.
  5. Halve lemons, then squeeze and reserve 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
  6. Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated).
  8. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.
  9. Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
  10. Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
  11. Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles.
  12. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
  13. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  14. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan.
  15. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours.
  16. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Love it. The cardamom whipped cream sealed the deal (of course, any thing lemon is enough to turn my world upside down…)

  2. You. Are. HILARIOUS! I absolutely laughed out loud at your racing mind wondering if your flirtations had prevented your receipt of this season’s citrus fruits. This cake looks delicious, but I’m more excited to try this cardamom cream! Plus, I’m debating whether to buy a zester…

  3. Jealous much! I just got some Meyer lemon and pink grapefruit seedlings, so maybe next year I can join in the citruspalooza. The cake looks absolutely wonderful.

  4. Oh, your cake looks fabulous…citrus and cardamon cream? Ooh, boy, I’d love a wedge. And like Yummy stated, your way with words is pure entertainment…

  5. Loved your post…you are so funny! I really enjoyed reading about your citrus growers. Your cake looks so delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. I think I live in the wrong climate. Bags of citrus from neighbors trumps bags of zucchini any day. Let it be known I’m jealous of your citrus bounty. That cake looks delicious!

  7. That looks really good! Sometimes the simplest cakes are the best.

  8. Isn’t it a little early for lemons and blueberries? We’re still in pumpkin/pecan pie season here. Please stick with the program. You should always thank someone for a bag of lemons (or else buy them at Walmart like I do – they’re cheap, no thanking necessary). Great recipe and photo – it’s blueberrylicious!

  9. Oh thank goodness- something else to use my Cardamon from the Dorie ginger carrots for 🙂 That picture is to die for – had already decided I would try this before I even realized the Cardamon connection. Hilarious post. PS- Nana and I think all the Doristas should book a Dorista convention in Paris next year. Maybe we could get Dorie to show up (and bring her friend David L ???) Put the word out. But we need it cheap 🙂 Cheaper than sea scallops, if you know what I mean.

  10. I like lemons, olive oil cake, blueberries and cardamom, never tried it in cream but will try it soon. I have neighbors with citrus fruit and some of them have issues with sharing,imagine that, best to plant your own, just to be safe. I have a fully loaded dwarf Mandarin orange tree, not to show off or anything like that;-) I enjoyed visiting here, you have a fun, delicious and lively site, unlike Saveur I will not ignore it;-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad the Citrus Gods at last dropped their largesse in your lap, particularly since this delightful post resulted. But, next time, go out and grab those lemons yourself. I bet you won’t wait long before having your both hands filled.


  12. I am so glad that you have been enjoying a citrus-a-palooza, Trevor! There is just nothing like fresh Meyer lemons. You olive oil cake looks wonderful!