Citrusy Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Drizzle

Limoncello Olive Oil Cake

This cake was such a surprise! It’s not a fluffy commercial texture, nor is it a brick – which was my first thought when I heard we’d be making an Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Drizzle at our “Date Night Romantic Mediterranean” cooking class with Chef Diane Brown. If you haven’t noticed, we’re a little addicted to cooking classes at the moment, and this one at Chef’s Inc. on Pico in LA was especially attractive because it was a Friday night. And you bring your own wine.

Part of the challenge in these classes is to keep us all cooking; Larry gets pretty wrapped up conversing with fellow students. But thankfully, Chef Diane is skilled at wrangling and keeping us on point, moving us through steps and important techniques we supposed to be learning. And while Larry is talking, I’m the annoying person with the camera.


We’re enjoying classes so much, we often give them to each other as gifts. Strangely, not only do I have a degree in home economics, and volunteer cook at Project Angel Food, and have been cooking since I was probably 14, but I also blog about cooking. You’d think I would know a whole heck of a lot of this stuff, but not so much. Cooking is like yoga. You continually practice; nobody knows everything.

IDEA: if ever in need of a gift idea, give a “chipmunk gift” certificate for two to a cooking class.  What’s that?  According to the Urban Dictionary: A seemingly generous present that will benefit the giver as much as the receiver. On an old Chipmunks Christmas album, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore give Dave a gift. He’s overwhelmed with their generosity until he discovers it’s an empty bag, which the Chipmunks say is for him to fill with presents and give back to them.

I personally think a class like Date Night Romantic Mediterranean is a wondeerful chipmunk gift.  It’s a date. And an activity. And a gift all rolled into one. Not all cooking schools let you BYOB, but Chef’s Inc. does and I think that makes it even better. Sip some wine while you artfully produce such go-to recipes as this moist, dense and tangy cake:

Citrusy Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Drizzle

  • 3/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin is desired), plus additional for greasing pan
  • 1 large lemon
  • 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
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with some oil, then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment paper.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with the flour. Halve lemon, squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

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. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated).

Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined. 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.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, and then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

Heat limoncello in a small saucepan and whisk in powdered sugar until dissolved. Drizzle over cake slices before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sally cameron September 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

This sounds great Patti. I love Limoncello and have even made it. And I love to make olive oil cakes. One of my favorite things to bake. Will have to try this recipe! Thanks!

2 Worth The Whisk September 7, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Kim – I truly believe in the chipmunk gift concept now. Even a bottle of wine, in my opinion, is a chipmunk gift.

3 Worth The Whisk September 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Michelle, not overly sweet by any means. And the Limoncello added a nice pucker.

4 Michelle September 7, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Whoa, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of using olive oil in a cake before! Very interesting. It sounds like it had an even texture…was it very sweet?

5 Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro September 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Evidently, I’ve been chipmunking Mr. RGBistro his last three birthdays in a row, and they ALL included cooking classes because I get to go with him! :o)

In fact, the first year, Mr. RGBistro got: 1) morning hike at Griffith Park, 2) matinee at Disney Concert Hall, 3) hors d’oeuvres at AOC, and 4) cooking class at Third and Fairfax Sur La Table.

We’ve never done Chefs, Inc. but now it’s on the list. Any other date-night cooking classes you recommend?


P.S. The cake looks delicious.

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