Laidback Merenda Fare

Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Cake topped with sliced almonds

Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Cake topped with sliced almonds

My favorite time of a summer day in Italy is pomeriggio, late afternoon, when the scorching midday sun initiates its surrender to the mountains’ evening breezes. My children, rested from their siesta, run next door to fetch their friends in the hopes of resuming the street soccer game I forced them to pause before pranzo. After a frantic match and several shouts of “GOOOAAAL,” they burst through the dancing zanzaniere (the long strands that hang from open doorways in Italian country homes to keep flies out) in search of their merenda, or afternoon snack. I invariably end up with a line of half dozen hungry children for whom I smear Nutella on fette biscottate. I also brew a pot of espresso, knowing that a parent or two in search of their kids will inevitably stop by. This Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Cake is precisely the type of laidback merenda treat I imagine enjoying with friends on our patio over un caffe’  on a sunny Italian pomeriggio.

Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Cake

Recipe by Majella Home Cooking ©

  • 3 Meyer lemons (or 4, if they are very small)
  • Scant 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus an additional teaspoon or so for oiling the cake plan)
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • ¼ cup of almond meal (or replace with an additional ¼ cup of flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a 9-inch round cake pan. Zest and juice all of the lemons over a medium bowl, whisk in the olive oil and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal and baking powder together until evenly incorporated and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and salt on medium speed for two minutes until frothy. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue to beat, until the mixture is pale and thick. Switch to low speed and slowly beat in the dry ingredients until combined, followed by the citrus mixture until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the sliced almonds on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake-taster inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar prior to serving. Buon appetito!

Extra two cents: This not-too-sweet cake is also perfect for breakfast, either on its own or with a dollop of Greek yogurt drizzled with honey.  Oranges or blood oranges would also work well in place of Meyer lemons.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and more fragrant than regular lemons.  My mom described them as “i limoni di Ribera,” lemons from the southerly Sicilian town of Ribera, near her own town of Caltabellotta.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and more fragrant than regular lemons. My mom described them as “i limoni di Ribera,” lemons from the southerly Sicilian town of Ribera, near her own town of Caltabellotta.


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One thought on “Laidback Merenda Fare

  1. ciaochowlinda March 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm Reply

    Olive oil cakes are wonderful and with the emphasis on the “mediterranean diet” this is so timely, not to mention delicious.

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