Olive Oil Lemon Berry Loaf Cake

Olive Oil Lemon Berry Loaf Cake
You probably reach for olive oil when cooking savory dishes, but it can be a wonderful ingredient to bake with when it comes time for dessert, as well. Olive oil has a subtle, bright acidity to it that pairs well with citrus fruit and berries in particular. This Olive Oil Lemon Berry Loaf Cake is an easy dessert that makes great use of olive oil – and is an excellent starting place if you haven’t considered baking with it before.

The loaf cake comes together just like any other quick bread, using the “muffin method” of mixing the ingredients together. You should be able to make the batter up using only a whisk, no need for an electric mixer! It has plenty of olive oil in the batter, along with fresh lemon zest, a hint of vanilla extract and lots of fresh berries. I used both raspberries and blueberries – equal quantities of both fruits – which gives the cake a beautiful color, as well as a nice combination of flavors. While I used fresh berries, frozen (unthawed) berries can also be used. The cake has a great crumb, just thick enough to support the weight of the berries, yet still soft and tender.

I love a sugary crust on top of this berry-filled cake, so I generously top the batter with coarse sugar before it goes into the oven. The cake itself is not overly sweet and, in fact, gets a lot of its sweetness from the berries. The sugar on top adds texture to each slice and plays up the naturally sweet raspberries and blueberries. My second choice for this loaf cake would be to finish it with a little lemon glaze, which will highlight the lemon zest in the batter. The loaf will keep well for a couple of days after baking but, because of the high moisture content of the berries, is best within a day or two.

Olive Oil Lemon Berry Loaf Cake
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large egg
2-3 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups mixed raspberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen
coarse sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or lightly grease and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, olive oil, egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract until smooth and well-combined. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible. Quickly and carefully fold in berries. Pour batter into prepared pan and top generously with 1-2 tbsp coarse sugar.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Allow loaf to cool in the pan completely before removing it and slicing it.

Makes 1 loaf; serves 8-10.

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