This is my basic cake, the one I soak in syrup and I often complement with jam or marmalade as well as with seasonal fruit to create a more elaborate dessert. It is a lighter version of my mother’s vassilopita, the cake she baked for the New Year celebrations.
Costas, who loves desserts, likes to freeze the cake and he cuts thin slices to eat after lunch.
Instead of grating the fruit to get the fine zest, then juicing it, I pulse whole pieces in the blender — peel and flesh of the lemon, orange or tangerine—to add aroma and tang to the cake.
I bake it either in loaf pans, or in a square, round or rectangular pan. When cooled a bit, I often slice it horizontally and while still warm I douse with the basic lemon syrup I describe in the very similar Yogurt Cake.
I often cut the cake horizontally and add a layer of jam or marmalade in the middle, and/or a seasonal fruit and nut topping: Confit orange slices, briefly cooked strawberries, and/or almonds or pistachios.
Traditionally all Greek cakes –called glyka tapsiou (cakes baked in a pan)– the most well known being walnut or almond cake, are served soaked in syrup. I always splash liberally the cake with my Lemon Liqueur; you can use store-bought Limoncello or a really good citrus-flavored liqueur, like my favorite Grand Marnier!
Makes 2 loaf pans (8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches, or 20 X 10 X 6 cm)
or a 9-inch round or square cake
2/3 -1 cup sugar, to taste
2/3 cup light olive oil –not very fruity
2 small oranges, lemons, or tangerines, washed then quartered to remove seeds, then pulsed in the blender to get about 1 ½ cups pulp (see NOTE)
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Lemon Syrup (optional)
Line the cake pans with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F (185 C).
In the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the eggs with the sugar in medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 5 minutes.
Add the olive oil and the orange pulse and work in low speed, increasing gradually to incorporate them.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the mixer and work at a low speed just until fully incorporated.
Pour in the prepared pans and bake for about 40 minutes or more, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes then invert the cakes, peel the paper, and let cool on a rack.
Alternatively you can use 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice, and the fine zest of 2 oranges, lemons or tangerines.