Olive oil cakes are popping up all over café menus and upscale restaurants. After one bite, it’s easy to understand what all the craze is about. The flavor is lighter than butter, and you can use it at a moment’s notice since there’s no need for it to soften. The flavor is also chameleon-like, taking on the subtle notes of the particular brand or type you use.
My quest started after taking my 6-year old daughter to Maialino in New York City, a very high-end Italian restaurant. It was a special treat, getting together with a friend and her daughter for breakfast during our recent spring break. Honestly, I never thought breakfast could cost that much money. While the experience was once in a lifetime—for breakfast at least, I did walk away with the inspiration to go home and take my own investigations with olive oil beyond sautéing and salad dressings.
These muffins have a lovely, crisp top with a tender crumb underneath. Fresh lemons are key, so don’t think about using the bottled stuff. As for extra-virgin vs. regular olive oil, I tried both and while the extra-virgin one had a pleasant fragrant flavor, the ones made with plain olive oil were equally delicious.
Lemon Poppy Olive Oil Muffins
2 cups flour
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or regular
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (125ml) milk