Recipe Review

I Tried Jennifer Garner’s Most Beloved Lemon Cake, and I’m Definitely Making It for Easter

published Mar 28, 2024
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A piece of lemon cake.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Jennifer Garner is back at it with her “pretend cooking show” on Instagram. Garner is always so relatable when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. She makes messes, feels unprepared, and eats batter directly from the spoon — all things I do as a cook, so I feel a special bond with her when I watch her videos and try her recipes. I fell in love with her cloud cookies, so when I saw that she posted a recipe for a lemon olive oil cake I knew I needed to give it a try.

This lemon olive oil cake is actually a recipe from James Beard award-winning chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Garner says Jon & Vinny’s is one of her family’s favorite restaurants in the world, and is “a must for anyone visiting LA.” She teamed up with them to bake cake and chat about their cause, Baby2Baby, which provides vital supplies to children living in poverty.

But does the cake live up to the hype? Let’s find out!

Get the recipe: Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make Jennifer Garner’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with oil, then line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add in whole milk, vanilla extract, amaro del capo, orange zest, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. (You may have some lumps; that’s OK!)

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve!

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

This cake was lemony and delicious. However, I do admit that this cake was a little too fatty for me, and I feel it could have benefited from a little less olive oil in general. The cake fell apart easily as I sliced it, which didn’t make the presentation of it super pretty. But at least it tasted good.

I do think her note about having good-quality olive oil is key for making this cake taste good. A bad olive oil — whether it’s cheap or, worse, rancid — won’t make for a tasty, delicate dessert. Instead, I would splurge on a high-quality oil that will get you that result that you want, because the taste of the olive oil really is present with each and every bite.

Lastly, I think that sprinkling the sugar on top before baking gives the top of this cake a caramelized finish that almost reminds me of the top of a crème brûlée. Obviously the top isn’t as hard, but that small amount of added sweet crunch really is a game-changer.

2 Tips for Making Jennifer Garner’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

  • Fold the parchment paper to make a perfect circle: Lining a circle springform pan isn’t intuitive, but thankfully there’s an easy trick you can do to line a round pan! Fold the paper in half, in half again, and then into a triangle, almost like you’re making a paper snowflake. Line up the tip at the center of the pan and cut the edge off where the pan ends. Unfold it and you’ll have the perfect circle.
  • Use freshly squeezed lemon juice: Just because we’re not all like Garner with multiple lemon trees in our backyard doesn’t mean we should skimp on using good lemon juice in this recipe! Squeezing fresh lemons for that juice will make a huge difference in the overall taste of this cake. You can also use the lemons you just zested for juice as well.

Get the recipe: Lemon Olive Oil Cake