Looking through my latest recipes I realized it’s been a while since I posted something sweet. I am not much of a sweets kind of person, but I enjoy making desserts and especially cakes. I am very picky with my taste for sweets. Cakes that are full of frosting are not my thing. I can make cakes all right, and I can decorate them too (more on that one of these days). I still prefer the cakes that are not overly sweet, with texture, and preferably naked. Proof of that in my very own recipes here, here, and here.
Herbs are surprisingly good on sweet treats. Basil has been doing beautiful things in my garden this year. I have already made a couple of batches of basil lemon cookies. I make them every summer and they start disappearing from the cooling rack like magic, they are gone in less than an hour. That gave me the idea to put all those flavors into a cake that I could have with my coffee for breakfast. My kids don’t normally cut into a cake until I do, granted, once the first piece is cut it becomes fair game for everyone. This olive oil, basil and lemon cake makes a wonderful bite for breakfast and it also makes the perfect afternoon coffee snack. Either way it’s a win. A great advantage of having cake for breakfast is that you make it the night before and you are all set. There is nothing wrong with having dessert for breakfast. One of theses days I’d like to try the predicted to be popular dessert breakfast this year: breakfast popsicles! Have you tried them yet?
Basil has a wonderful aroma and delicate sweetness that I love. I can’t have enough of it on my salads, pastas, vinaigrettes, sauces, pesto, and even sweet treats like this breakfast cake. Olive oil makes this cake very moist and it gives a wonderful richness that in this recipe is better than butter. Then you have lemon to brighten everything up. Even though all of this flavors make the perfect pasta or chicken, you will be surprised at how beautiful they come together for a cake as well.
(You will need a 9″ round pan greased with butter & flour)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons powder sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a stand mixer beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, start on low and increase to medium after a minute or so, whip for about 5 minutes until the mix is thick and pale. Scrape down the sides, with the mixer on low start adding the olive oil in a thin stream, whip until well combined. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest using a wire whisk. Add 1 third of the dry ingredients into the mixer and beat on low until combine, add half of the milk, then add another third of flour, continue mixing and adding milk and flour until everything is well combined. With a spatula or wooden spoon fold in the lemon juice and chopped basil.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, tap a couple of times on the counter to let the air bubbles out. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, invert onto a serving plate. Before serving sprinkle with powder sugar if desired. Enjoy!