This simple and versatile cake is a global staple. It hails from the Mediterranean region near the south of France. Full disclosure it is my wife’s recipe; and I am happy to devour it when she makes it!  Perfect to bring to a spring party!



1 cup (200g) sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
1 cup (235ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (125ml) lemon juice
1 cup (235ml) milk
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Icing sugar, for sprinkling


Pre-heat your oven to 350F (180C) with a rack in the middle. Grease a 9-inch circular cake pan with butter, sprinkle the sides with flour, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the zest of the two lemons and rub with your fingers so the zest releases moisture and the sugar is moist and lumpy. Whisk in the olive oil, the eggs, the vanilla extract, the lemon juice, and the milk.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the wet ingredients until just incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 40 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan before attempting to release it. Run a thin butter knife around the edges if it seems a bit stuck.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.


  • Add the juice of an orange instead of the lemon, or part and part.
  • A bit of rosemary in the mix is lovely.
  • Top with blueberries or add a few into the cake batter itself.
  • Deb’s favorite: just before cake is completely cooled, top with an apricot glaze. (For glaze, combine apricot jam and cognac in a saucepan and heat 3-5 minutes until blended and alcohol evaporates)
  • And my favorite: Top with macerated strawberries when in season!

Bon appétit!