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A Lovely Lemon Cake from the Girl & the Fig

Meyer lemons. Rich olive oil. And heady rosemary.

All in one moist, flavorful cake that’s a California take on a Mediterranean classic.

One bite will have you transported to a white sandy beach by a crystalline blue sea.

That’s how good it is.

“Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze” is from the news self-published  cookbook, “Plats du Jour” by Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of the popular Girl & the Fig restaurant in Sonoma, which serves up French country cooking with California sensibilities.

The book, of which I recently received a review copy, is full of recipes from the restaurant’s popular three-course “Plats du Jour” menu offered each Thursday evening, which incorporates the freshest seasonal ingredients. Cook a menu in its entirety or mix and match as you desire.

This simple cake couldn’t help but catch my eye, now that my backyard Meyer lemon tree is groaning with ripe fruit. You also can use Eureka lemons, too. But Meyers are less tart and more floral, making them especially wonderful to bake with.

The olive oil lends a grassy lushness. Vanilla bean and extract add roundness. And the rosemary gives a slight savory, piney quality that is irresistible.

The recipe says to bake the cake for 30 minutes. But I found it took almost twice that time in my oven, which is gas. So, just monitor your cake diligently to be sure it’s fully baked.

After the cake cools and is inverted onto a serving plate, it’s drenched with a thin glaze made of powdered sugar and a whole cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Feel free to serve with dollops of softly whipped cream or creme fraiche.

And to indulge in seconds — because when it comes to this cake, resistance is just plain futile.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze

(Serves 8 )

For the cake:

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and set aside

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

For the glaze:

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

For serving:

Creme fraiche or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper to fit.

To prepare the cake: Beat sugar and eggs together in a mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and rosemary. Continue to mix for 1 minute. Pour batter into baking pan.

Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides, 30 minutes or more, depending on your oven. Le the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool right-side up on a wire rack for 2 hours.

To prepare the glaze: In a small saucepan, cook lemon juice and powdered sugar over medium heat and stir until smooth. Let mixture cool slightly, then pour it over cake.

To serve: Slice cake in 8 wedges. Put a slice of cake on a plate and add a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Wine Pairing: Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, France; Bonny Doon “Vinferno,” Late Harvest White Blend, California

Adapted from “Plats du Jour” by Sondra Bernstein


More Lemon Recipes: Martha Stewart’s Sausage, Chard and Lemon Lasagna

And: Saveur’s Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

And: Lemon Walnut Biscotti

And: Emily Luchetti’s Lemon Squares

And: Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade

And: Preserved Lemons

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