Instead of using vegetable oil, which doesn’t have any flavor, this light and fluffy cake gets a special flavor boost from extra-virgin olive oil (and a bit of lemon zest).
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Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray inside bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs to bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if using handheld mixer). Lock bowl into place and attach whisk attachment to stand mixer, if using. Start mixer on medium speed. Whip until eggs are foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop mixer.
Add lemon zest and 1¼ cups sugar to eggs and start mixer on high speed. Whip until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium. With mixer running, slowly pour in oil and mix until fully combined, about 1 minute. Stop mixer.
Carefully add half of flour mixture. Start mixer on low speed and mix until combined, about 1 minute. With mixer running, pour in milk and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer.
Add remaining flour mixture. Start mixer on low speed and mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Stop mixer. Remove bowl from stand mixer, if using.
Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl and stir in any remaining dry flour. Use rubber spatula to scrape batter into greased springform pan. Sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Place springform pan in oven. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove springform pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place springform pan on cooling rack and let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Just about anything you bake will contain fat in some form—usually butter or vegetable oil. Fat gives baked goods flavor and a tender texture. Another kind of fat is olive oil, which is simply the juice that’s pressed out of fresh olives. It’s been used in cooking for thousands of years, especially in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece, and Spain, where olives love to grow. Unlike butter and vegetable oil, which have mild flavors, olive oil has a strong flavor all its own—many people describe it as peppery and grassy. Because of this, you usually see olive oil only in recipes for savory foods. But you can bake with it, too! In this recipe, olive oil gives the cake a unique (and tasty) flavor and helps it bake up extra moist and tender. Make sure to use a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil in this cake.