Monday, January 18, 2010

Almondy Citrusy Olive Oil Cake

Olive oil sounds like such a weird thing to put in a cake (or in any dessert for that matter).  But after having tried the olive oil gelato from Otto I knew that done right, olive oil in desserts can be AMAZING.  Just trust me.  If you don't trust me, then go ahead and Google "Otto olive oil gelato" and be prepared to read all of the bloggers' crazily rhapsodic accounts of their first taste of Otto's olive oil gelato.  And yes, it really is that good.

So this weekend I decided that I wanted to make an olive oil cake.  Why not come up with a baking project for the 3-day weekend?  At first I was going to make an upside-down pear cake, but considering I made the cake with Asian pears just last week, I figured I needed to do something different.  Like all good little bloggers I started searching the internet and my bookshelf for inspiration.  First I stumbled across this Almond Olive Oil Cake from Gina DePalma (Babbo's pastry chef).  But that was out because I don't have any almond flour, plus I am not sure about the whole glaze thing.  Then on the bookshelf in The Babbo Cookbook I found their Olive Oil and Fresh Rosemary Cake.  But I am out of fresh rosemary.  As a side note, the Babbo cookbook also has the recipe for that amazing olive oil gelato that I talked about above, but there is no room in my NYC kitchen for a gelato/ice cream machine.  Blast.  Similarly, Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook has a recipe for Olive Oil and Orange Cake, but I don't have 6 oranges on hand to zest and juice.  Then I remembered that a long time ago I bookmarked Giada's Almond Citrus Olive Oil Cake recipe.  I had yet to make it because I just wasn't sure about the citrus compote that goes with it.  However, the recipe itself seemed like a good base for my cake recipe and after reading most of the other cake recipes I came to the conclusion that I could just make the cake without the compote and serve it like that. 

As all olive cakes tend to be, this is more of a savory cake than a sweet one.  If you want to make it sweeter, feel free to add a bit more sugar or honey.  Better yet, serve the cake with some nice vanilla gelato.  Then you get the savory warm cake and the sweet cold gelato together.  Yum.  One last option that I might recommend (and I never thought I would say this) is to prepare a lemony glaze like in Gina DePalma's recipe, instead of just sifting powdered sugar on top.  The glaze should run down into the cake and make it both sweeter and a bit moister.  I however am a fan of the sugary-salty blend with desserts so the savoriness of the cake is very appealing to me.  Either way, the cake has a wonderful crumb and is neither too moist, nor too crumbly.  It really would make a delicious breakfast or snack with a cup of tea.

Recipe after the jump!

Almondy Citrusy Olive Oil Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons orange zest
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
3/4 cup evoo (you can substitute regular olive oil for a lighter flavor)
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted, coarsely crumbled
Powdered sugar, for sifting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter a 9-inch-diameter springform pan.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.  Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the cream and then gradually beat in the evoo.  Add the flour mixture slowly and beat just until blended.  Fold in the toasted almonds.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes. Remove cake and place on serving platter, top side up. Sift powdered sugar over the cake and serve warm.

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