So much better than its name suggests olive oil cake

I have, since, been pointed in the direction of other excellent-sounding olive oil cakes, but this one has the advantage of being completely dairy-free, which was what I was looking for in the first place. If I’m honest, I can hardly imagine it getting any better than this.

We’ve been seeing friends again, and my favourite invitation is ‘goûter-apéro,’ somewhere between a kid’s afternoon snack and early evening drinks. It’s the best way to see families, and justifies meeting — and drinking — early, before the evening chill sets in. We’re just a day away from indoor gatherings again, but I bet outdoor meetings will continue, as the world bursts fully into spring and we’ve become inured to the nip.

Last Sunday I needed a dairy-free cake, and an online search quickly yielded this Olive Oil Cake by Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit magazine. It is flavoured with a subtle trio of lemon zest, vanilla extract, and — the key — a real dash of alcohol. I used sweet vermouth, which is always on hand in our house. Madeira would also be good, but I think I’d choose either over the other, more overt, suggested options in the recipe, amaretto and Grand Marnier. I like the structuring, delicate, nearly unplaceable aroma of the vermouth.

Olive Oil Cake, barely adapted from Claire Saffitz’s recipe in Bon Appétit magazine

300ml (1 1/4 cups) olive oil (I use a mix of a mild and a more peppery one)
175g (1 cup) sugar
250g (2 cups) flour
40g (1/3 cup) almond flour / ground almonds
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
Zest from one lemon and 3 Tbsps of juice
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 Tbsps sweet vermouth, or another fortified wine or liqueur such as Madeira, amaretto, Grand Marnier…

NOTE: The oven is preheated to 200C (400F) and then lowered to 175C (350F) just before putting in the cake —> Do not forget to lower the temperature (as I did, once), as — even if it doesn’t burn — the cake will loose its incredibly fluffy texture!

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Line the bottom of a 23cm (9″) spring-form cake tin with parchment paper. Coat the parchment and the sides of the tin faintly with olive oil, and then a sprinkling of sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, just enough to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.

Put the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest in a large, deep bowl or stand mixer. *** I don’t have a stand mixer so I used a a manual whisk once (lots of elbow grease), and on another occasion the whisk attachment of a handheld mixer (much easier!). Any one of those works. ***

In a small bowl, stir together the alcohol, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest vigorously, until the mixture becomes foamy and pale and begins to thicken => 3 to 5 minutes. Add the olive oil in a steady drizzle, all the while continuing to whisk energetically. The mixture will continue to thicken and gain in volume.

Now incorporate the flour and alcohol mixtures into the egg/sugar batter according to the following pattern:
With a wooden spoon, stir in a 1/3 of the flour mix, then half of the liquids, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the liquids, and the rest of the flour. Stir through just enough to combine. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin, sprinkle lightly with sugar, and slide into the oven without forgetting to lower the temperature to 175C (350F) !!

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a knife or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Apparently this cake keeps well for at least 4 days, but here so far it’s barely lasted overnight.

2 Responses to “So much better than its name suggests olive oil cake”

  1. Sophie Hunt Says:

    Olive Oil cake absolutely on the menu for this weekend. Thank you for another lovely post and your stories of friendship, seasons and eating and drinking are beautiful. xx

    • valerie Says:

      Thank you so much Sophie. I hope very much that we will be eating and drinking together again soon. xx

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