Oh. Me. Oh. My.
This just in: guess what I’ve made six times in the last two weeks? You’re looking at it, sister. I officially belong to the elite club of people who could live off of lemon olive oil cake FOREVER.
As an important side note, cake > bread, is it not? so even though this looks like quick bread, let’s just go right ahead and embrace this as full-blown C-A-K-E. Which would imply that cake for breakfast, afternoon-snack, and post-dinner-snack is about to happen in your life and you should be very excited about it.
Friends. You just take a minute right now and you drink in those virtual smells. Are you ready? The lemony oils with the coarse sugar. The spicy, invigorating ginger. The grassiness of the olive oil. The poppyseeds and all their cute little nuttiness.
This is a bakery meets winter spa situation and I cannot get enough.
Can we go to the food feelings zone for a second?
Something about this cake is inherently soul-HEALING. And in the grey-meh-bleh days of January where you find yourself leaving for work and returning home all in the dark days of winter, and where everyone and everything is recovering from being winter-sick, and where you find out that your heater has actually been blowing AIR CONDITIONING at you for the last three months (true story, friends, TRUE STORY), healing is good. Healing is very totally necessary.
Making this cake requires just enough work to remind you that good food takes time. We’re grating zucchini and gently pressing out the water. We’re zesting lemons like a boss, but slowing down to smell the little curls of zest along the way because YUM. We’re pressing our own olives to make… no, we’re not actually. Thank you, Store Bought Olive Oil. We’re just sniffing that olive oil. Is that allowed?
As much as I appreciate affordable short cuts, we need to be honest with ourselves – this recipe is not cheap. No, with ONE FULL CUP of olive oil in there and a big handful of poppyseeds (why so expensive, little guys? I don’t understand it), this is more of a love song to high quality, delicious ingredients than anything else.
At its most physical, it is straight up aromatherapy.
On an emotional level, it is lemon-loaded love.
And when we just take it back to basics: it is my winter breakfast of choice.
UNUSUAL NOTE ABOUT THIS LEMON OLIVE OIL CAKE:
You know I love my sauces, toppings, and extras x10 on everything. But honestly, I’m here to tell you that this cake doesn’t need any butter, any honey, any glaze or frosting or any anything. (!!) That’s kind of a big deal.
All this lemon olive oil cake needs is you on the couch with a house that smells like a bakery + winter spa combo, holding a warm mug of dark coffee and a few (dozen) slices of this bread. ♡
We are so FEELIN IT.
- 3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
- grated zest of 2 large lemons
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups brown sugar (packed softly)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- optional: tiny pinch of nutmeg
- optional: a small grated piece of fresh ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350. In a small mixing bowl, mix the zucchini with ¼ cup brown sugar. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer set over the mixing bowl. Fill another small bowl with water and set it directly on top of the zucchini so that it is pushing down, pressing the water out into the bowl below.
- Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Whisk together the remaining brown sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in the olive oil gradually, whisking it in until it's thoroughly incorporated.
- Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, nutmeg, and ginger until just combined. Add the pressed zucchini to the batter and stir it in gently until evenly incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. The outer crust of the bread will be firm to the touch and on the darker side of golden brown (see notes).
- Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes. Remove, cut, and serve (but also see notes about chilling the cake which is unusually delicious).
For a lighter-colored cake, use half brown sugar and half white sugar. Or all white sugar. I've made this 6x, a little different each time, but my favorite variation was the all-brown-sugar version (as written) which gives a darker, more caramel-like crust on the whole bread. It might seem a little dark at first compared to other loaf cakes, but give it a little time in the fridge and it will be magic in your mouth.
About the sugar: yes, it's a lot of sugar. I did try it with less sugar and while it tasted pretty good, the texture just wasn't quite there. I generally opt for less sugar in my recipes, but in this one, I really felt like the full sugar amount was necessary to achieve the best texture. The batter WILL taste overly sweet. Don't panic. It all evens out once it's baked.