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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 WITH LEMON, ORANGE OR TANGERINE
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 © 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
Who knew: Olive oil tastes just as good as
butter in certain cakes.FlavorYourLife.com.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F/165°C/gas 3. Lightly butter a 9-inch/23-cm springform pan with a removable bottom.
2. COMBINE the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the eggs are thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil and melted butter and continue to beat. Fold in the citrus zest and juice.
3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the egg mixture and stir until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no dry bits at the bottom.
4. POUR the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is lightly brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating once during baking to make sure it cooks evenly. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the pan sides and cool the cake completely on the rack.
5. MAKE the marmalade: Scrub and dry the tangerines and trim off their tops and bottoms. Slice 2 of them as thinly a possible while still keeping their shape, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) thick, discarding the seeds as they appear. Place the tangerine slices in a small pot with a heavy bottom. Juice the remaining 2 tangerines (you should have a scant cup/240 ml of juice) and pour the juice over the sliced fruit. Set aside for 20 minutes.
6. COOK the fruit over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Decrease the heat slightly and simmer until the tangerine peel is soft, about 20 minutes. Don’t stir: It will destroy the pretty round shape of the citrus.
7. ADD the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar is dissolved. Cook until thickened and the juice has gelled slightly and is syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
8. ARRANGE the candied citrus slices over the top of the cake, overlapping to make beautiful jeweled tiles of fruit. Drizzle some of the citrus syrup over the slices and allow it to drip down the sides of the cake. Slice and serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream/double cream.
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