Lemon Upside-Down Cake

Lemon Upside-Down Cake

This fragrant cake is a variation on the culinary classic upside-down cake. Lightly bursting with the rich flavors and aromas of lemon and extra virgin olive oil, this barely sweet, complex and supple cake is a nostalgic, yet contemporary dessert. The tartness of the lovely caramelized lemon complements the fruitiness of olive oil, making this a simply elegant and truly sophisticated end to any meal.

8-10 servings, 1 10-inch round cake


¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
2-3 large lemons, sliced very thinly, seeds removed
1 cup sugar, divided use
4 eggs, room temperature
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Juice of two large lemons, about ¼ cup
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Sweetened whipped cream, optional garnish


10-inch round springform pan
Electric or handheld mixer
Mandolin or sharp straight-edge knife
Rubber spatula
Parchment Paper


Blanch the lemon slices in boiling water two times, draining and refilling with fresh water each time. Lay the slices out on a wire rack or towels to drain the excess water.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush a 10-inch round springform pan lightly with the melted butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper and place in the bottom of the pan. Brush the parchment again with the melted butter. Sprinkle ¼ cup of sugar evenly over the melted butter and then layer the lemon slices in a decorative pattern over the sugar in the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest in a spouted measuring cup and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks and remaining ¾ cup of sugar on high speed using the whisk attachment until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Still using the whisk attachment, alternately add the dry and liquid ingredients into the egg mixture, one-third at a time, mixing slowly and only until fully incorporated. Carefully fold in the last addition of the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan over the lemons. Tap the pan a few times on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. It will puff up quite a bit, but will settle flat upon cooling. Cool the cake on a rack for at least 15 minutes and then release from the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before transferring to a cake plate to serve.

[Chef’s Note: It may seem tedious to cook the lemons twice, but blanching them removes any bitterness in the rind and is a necessary step to produce a tasty, edible garnish.]


Cut the cake into equal sized wedges and serve, room temperature or warm, with some (optional) sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy!


Try this dessert with oranges instead of lemons by substituting equal parts slices, juice and zest for your desired citrus.

Recipe and photo by Monica Glass