Our first encounter with olive oil cake came at a trattoria in our neighborhood. It sounded strange to us: We were raised in a butter culture, with a palate trained to recognize buttery goodness over margarine and cake mixes made with salad oil.
But, this olive oil and basil cake (also made by the restaurant in an olive oil and rosemary version) was love at first bite. The extra virgin olive oil—not canola or corn oil—donated wonderful flavor. And while cake isn’t exactly a good-for-you food, heart-healthy olive oil instead of cholesterol-laden butter was an excuse to have another piece. (Note, however, that this particular recipe does include some butter.)
Use a fruity EVOO, not a peppery or grassy one. Fruity means that it tastes olive-y (see the different flavors of olive oil).
You can make the tangerine marmalade to top the cake, enjoy the cake plain, or serve with berries and a dab of mascarpone or crème fraîche. By all means, add a chiffonade of fresh basil.
The nine-inch cake serves eight.
This recipe, by Sarah Copeland, is from The Newlywed Cookbook.
RECIPE: OLIVE OIL CAKE
4 large eggs
3/4 cup/150 g sugar
2/3 cup/165 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup/75 ml melted unsalted butter
It’s not hard to make this delicious olive oil cake. Photo courtesy Chronicle Books.
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 tangerine, orange, or lemon
1-1/2 cups/175 g all-purpose/plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or iodized salt
4 large tangerines, Minneolas, lemons, Meyer lemons or Temple oranges, or a mix (about 1-3/4 lbs/800 g)
1 cup/200 g sugar
For The Tangerine Marmalade
Crème fraîche or whipped cream/double cream
For The Garnish