Olive Oil Cake



Picture this: you in a deck chair, on a boat somewhere in the Mediterranean on a shimmering sun-filled afternoon with a slice of lemon cake by your side. The big floppy hat is optional. # 65: Olive Oil Cake



You might be thinking, oh no, olive oil in a sweet cake? But have no fear, it doesn’t taste like a salad. Using olive oil instead of butter results in a rich, dense cake with a subtle savory taste. Since this cake in particular also has lemon zest and juice incorporated into the batter, it mostly tastes of sweet citrus. See? Not bad at all. In fact, quite yummy.


I have a confession to make. I LOVE frosting. I’m not one of those east-frosting-straight kind of people, but I much prefer a cake with frosting than a cake without. If it doesn’t have frosting, it’s gotta be drenched in a glaze or syrup for me to go back for seconds. When my friend (and co-baker for this cake!) Emily suggested we try making an olive oil cake, my first thought was to search recipes for layer cakes with tons of whipped frosting. She talked some sense into me and here we are, with this lovely, simple, classic cake. Moral of this story: you don’t need frosting to be delicious.




Going back to that red kitchen tool theme again. Maybe the red and white invoke the happy feelings associated with picnics and checkered table cloths? Whatever it is, I keep reaching for the red utensils when I’m shopping.



Gotta love fresh lemons from local trees!



The recipe called for a small amount of flavored liquor – suggesting amaretto or Grand Marnier. Keeping with the citrus theme, we chose Grand Marnier. Alternated adding the dry and wet ingredients gradually a low speed on the mixer – don’t want to waste anything by having it fly out of the bowl to freedom!



Fun perk of this kind of cake: no stand mixer required! You obviously can use it if you only own one whisk like me, but it is by no means necessary. It feels like you’re working with a melted butter batter – super simple. Of course, that also means it’s a naturally denser cake since no whipping is involved. Trade-offs! If you’re not into close-textured cakes, this Cooks Illustrated article has some interesting notes about using differing amounts of whipped egg to create a lighter texture.




Sprinkles of sugar help add a fun texture to the top of the cake! Also, the pan was oiled and lined with sugar instead of flour (expertly done by Emily.) This made it nonstick and avoided the unappetizing flour coating on the outside of the cake.



Ta-daa! I love the rustic cracks on top. When in doubt, call cracks rustic. That way everyone thinks you did them purpose. In this case, the cracks were expected since this cake so dense – the outside cooks the fastest and when the interior follows suit, it pushes up and cracks the top. Hence, rustic cake!



We poked holes in the top and poured an additional dose of olive oil over it. If you want less olive oil flavor, I’m sure you could do a lemon simple syrup instead. But you’re making an olive oil cake, so be brave and go for it.



Happy munching!


Side note: this can be made up to a week in advance! The olive oil helps keep it super fresh (as long as you keep it covered, of course.)


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