lemon-mint cake


who else is really excited about daylight saving time?  long ago, in another life it seems, this time of the year meant that, no matter how dark the work day left my soul (we’re being dramatic today), i could step out of the office and into the evening to find there was still light in the sky – still hope in life.  …or if not hope, then at least possibility. the day wasn’t over yet; the world had saved one last little slice of it for me.

these days… with my new job… (not gonna complain not gonna complain not gonna complain…) well, let’s just say i have better chances of getting a good slice of cake.

i’ve never made one quite like this before. i saw giada de laurentiis make it on one of her shows on the food network, and when her fork sunk into it like it was a marshmallow, i was sold.

the texture is some sort of (lovely) hybrid between an angel food cake’s light-as-air fluff and a classic butter cake’s moist, tightly-packed crumb – it slices beautifully.  what’s more is the top crust of the cake after it’s all baked up: like a thin lid of meringue, it cracks and splits apart in shards to reveal the cottony plush underneath.

the lemon flavor is just the right amount of brightness here, and the mint is subtle. the original recipe includes a simple syrup flavored with lemon (to which i added more mint) that you can drizzle around too, but it’s more for looks than anything else, if you ask me. as it is, the cake is an elegant study of sweet and tart, soft and crisp.


this is the kind of thing you’d set out as dessert for one of those effortlessly graceful alfresco lunches, underneath some great big tree, dappled sunlight all over the place.

…or you could sneak a slice of it from the kitchen, at midnight, in your pajamas, when you are up late dreaming of brighter days.


Lemon-Mint Cake
adapted (barely) from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing
Flour, for dusting
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
fresh mint leaves, chopped to equal about 2 Tbsp.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
lemon-mint syrup, optional (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add ½ cup sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat the vegetable oil, the remaining ½ cup sugar, and salt. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time. Add the chopped mint, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Set aside.
  4. Slowly add ½ of the egg white mixture into the oil mixture. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cutting board and allow to cool before slicing.

{Lemon-Mint Syrup}
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
fresh mint leaves, chopped to equal about 2 Tbsp.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, and lemon zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes. Stir in chopped mint.

To serve: Spoon some of the syrup onto each small plate or shallow bowl and lay a slice of cake on top. Drizzle the cake with additional syrup and garnish with a small sprig of mint.



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