Savory meet Sweet. You guys could really get along – Olive Oil Cake
I have a new favorite cake in this world. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t make it for my choice of birthday cakes. Birthdays are for special occasion foods and I’m making this cake WAY too often for it to be a special occasion cake. It’s more of an everyday cake (if there really were such a thing). It’s an eat-another-piece-for-breakfast kind of cake. It’s an I-like-savory-way-more-than-sweets kind of cake. That’s what drew me to it in the first place.
I was looking into making an olive oil cake rather randomly. I’d never made one and it felt like it would expand my horizons, but what go the idea in my head in the first place? I haven’t the foggiest clue. I remember wanting to make a cake with herbs. But I pretty much want to put fresh herbs into everything these days, so that’s nothing new. When my standard random search for inspirations/ideas lead me to 101 Cookbooks’ recipe for a rosemary-olive oil cake I wasn’t hesitant to let it beat out the citrus cakes. I was undeterred by the call for spelt flour and went out to buy rosemary.
The thing about an olive oil cake is it takes as much as a cup of oil (depending on the recipe). I, of course, was draw to a recipe that called for the most oil of all the recipes I looked at. When you live in NYC, or are just prone to buying really tasty olive oil, that can make it a pretty expensive cake to bake.
The best olive oil cakes (in my not-so-humble opinion*) call for dark green and flavorful olive oils. You don’t want a light olive oil or it’s just a generic ingredient and looses the point. You don’t need to break the bank with an artisan cold pressed oil either. When the idea of this cake started sitting in the back of my head I found an olive oil on sale for 2 bottles for the price of 1. I bought 4. I save them just for cake and until they run out I will feel free to make this cake as often as I like (and that is pretty often). Once they run out I’m hoping my roommates will be so addicted to this cake that they will randomly bring me olive oil as a gift.
*Despite my not-so-humble-opinion I am aware that I am not Italian, was not raised on olive oil cakes, did not have a grandmother who made olive oil cakes, nor have I yet to make any olive oil cake other than this one. I just really, really, really like the idea that you should use flavorful olive oils. I am in no way actually entitled to make any statements of “best” in this category other than being very opinionated about food.
One of my favorite suggestions from the 101 Cookbooks’ recipe is the insistent on chopping up a block of chocolate rather than using chips. She is totally right. You can really let bigger chunks stand out, but it’s the tiny shavings that make the whole thing speckled and blend all the flavors into each bite. I love that it got me started on block chocolate too – I feel like there are a bunch of recipes that would benefit from realizing chocolate chips are a short-cut. Not that I have anything against chocolate chips – I mean what kind of person has a beef with chocolate chips?!?
Having gathered my fresh rosemary (quite possibly my favorite fresh herb behind cilantro) and olive oil, I set out to make my cake. Now comes that spelt flour thing… I would love to be in a place where I was sneaking in more healthy alternative flours into my baking, but honestly that probably won’t happen til I have kids I’m responsible for feeding. Still I don’t make a lot of things with regular flour only so I turned to my favorite all purpose go-to and use almond flour. It gave the cake a fantastic texture and was still very true to the ingredients.
I made some small changes, but this recipe is dynamite for a couple of reasons. There’s no whipping egg whites or complicated building of the cake. It’s as simple as the humble yet complex cake would want to be. I didn’t save chocolate for just a topping layer. I mixed it all right in there and just used a light sugar dusting to make a crust.
Olive oil and rosemary balancing seamlessly with dark chocolate in a moist but not too dense cake. This recipe is heavenly. I can’t help but serve it warm from the oven, but it’s actually supposed to get better with age. Don’t feel guilty about that breakfast slice. It’s what makes life worth living sometimes.
Here’s my variation on 101 Cookbook’s recipe.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp good salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup fruity flavorful olive oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- a good handful of rosemary
- 4-6 oz (depending on your mood) dark chocolate bar
For The Madness please visit 101 Cookbooks’ site for their baking instructions.
**I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in the smallest change in olive oil amounts. You want the cup to be just under the measuring line not just over it. The lighter oil amount will give you a fluffier cake while the touch heavier hand will give you an uber-moist denser cake that leaves oil on your plate.
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