Lemon olive oil cake has been bringing a little poppy seed sunshine to our kitchen this week. Baking it like a classic upside down cake gives it a fresh, pretty top that makes it look a lot more fancy (read: complicated) than it actually is!
We’re having that sort of spring weather here in Kansas City that makes you feel downright itchy for summer. It’s so rainy and cold that all the newly planted flowers and leggy tomato plants look like they might call it quits and dive back down into the dirt.
But the sun will come. The grill is ready for Memorial Day, and in the meantime, it’s bright and sunny in the kitchen thanks to this pretty little cake.
It’s really a super simple, moist pound cake based on this delicious one from the New York Times but with a little extra love. There’s no butter in the cake (just a little in the topping), but you won’t even miss it because buttermilk and olive oil give the batter a super soft, rich texture.
Thanks to that great moisture in the batter, this is a cake you can make ahead and store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving and it tastes just as good as the day you make it.
Bring on the sunshine!
- ¼ cup Butter
- ⅔ cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Lemon, very thinly sliced (see note)
- Zest of 2 Large Lemons
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup Buttermilk
- 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 3 Eggs
- 1¾ cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1½ Tbsp Poppy Seeds
- 1½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1½ tsp Baking Soda
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ⅔ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Heat oven to 350 F / 177 C degrees.
- Place butter in the center of a 9-inch cake pan (an 8-inch pan will work too) and set the pan in the oven. Leave the pan in the oven for a few minutes, and remove it as soon as the butter melts. Swirl the pan so that the butter coats the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle light brown sugar over the top of the melted butter, breaking up any large pieces with your fingers. Place lemon slices in a single layer over brown sugar. (Be a little artistic here - this will be the top of the cake!)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon juice, and eggs until evenly combined.
- In a second bowl, combine flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three increments, stirring between each addition. Add oil and whisk to combine.
- Pour batter over lemon slices in prepared pan.
- Bake until center is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool at room temperature before inverting the pan over a plate or cutting board. Slice and serve!
- Cake will stay moist if stored in the fridge, covered, for 2 to 3 days.
Before all this rain hit, we got some serious time in at the playground. Molly and Clara are suddenly so brave!