Don’t be fooled by the plainness of this cake – it is light, lemony and absolutely moreish, and a good keeper thanks to the olive oil. Try it as a dessert cake with a fresh fruit salad and honey-flavoured Greek yoghurt.
100g (3½ oz) standard flour Few pinches salt 1 tsp baking powder 2 large (size 7) free-range eggs, at room temperature 175g (6 oz) caster (superfine granulated) sugar 125g (4 oz) fine semolina 3 Tbsp lemon juice Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Lemon Drizzle 4 Tbsp caster (superfine granulated) sugar 5 Tbsp lemon juice, strained
1 Weigh ingredients, prepare lemons and line a 23cm (cake tin with baking (parchment) paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
2 Sieve flour, salt and baking powder together onto a piece of paper. Break eggs into a bowl and beat with an electric beater for 1 minute to loosen them, then beat in caster sugar a spoonful at a time. Continue beating until the mixture is pale and thick and mousse-like and will form a ribbon when the beaters are lifted out of the mixture (this means the mixture should fall off the beaters in a thick trail). Sift the ingredients over the top and fold in with a large spoon, then fold in the semolina. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and olive oil.
2 Turn mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden and slightly shrunken from the sides of the tin. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed. Cool cake in the tin for 12-15 minutes. Cover tin with a cake rack lined with baking paper and invert. Cool cake for a further 15 minutes.
3 To make the drizzle, mix the lemon juice and sugar together in a small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Cool.
4 Slide cake off the paper onto a plate and poke several small holes in the cake with a skewer. Spoon over the lemon drizzle. Cool completely before serving. If liked, dust with icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) before serving.
Ilaria’s Mandarin Glaze
To make a mandarin glaze for the cake, Ilaria used two of baby mandarins, the juice of 2 lemons, some vanilla essence and a little caster (superfine granulated) sugar too sweeten, then heated it in a pan until the sugar dissolved.