Often, this cake was doused in syrup as you see in the original recipe. Traditionally scented with plenty of lemon zest, I thought that adding lemon verbena leaves would make my cake more fragrant and interesting. Apparently, it seems that it does, at least this is what Costas and I thought after tasting the first new version.
Keep in mind that this is not a light, airy cake, but has a somewhat dense texture that we love! I suggest you bake it a day before you serve it, so its flavors have time to develop and deepen.
1/2 cup olive oil (not very fruity) plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for the pan
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds, or hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 packed tablespoons fresh lemon verbena leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
Fine zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic
2 eggs, separated
1 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, or 1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F (180 C)
Line a large loaf-pan with parchment paper and brush the paper with olive oil.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, the baking soda, the salt and half a cup of the nuts. Set aside.
In the blender pulse together 1 cup sugar with the zest and lemon verbena leaves.
Using a standing mixer, or hand-held mixer and a stainless-steel bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside. Do not rinse the beaters yet.
In another bowl, using the un-rinsed beaters, mix the egg yolks and the sugar until creamy. Add the olive oil, the yogurt, and the marmalade, or 1/3 cup sugar –keep the rest to sprinkle the top—and beat until incorporated.
Add half of the flour mixture and work to incorporate then add the remaining flour and work the batter until well incorporated.
Fold in the egg whites whisking to incorporate. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and even the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the rest of the nuts and some sugar.
Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before cutting to serve. The cake is better the next day.