Recipe: Simple olive oil cake

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Olive oil cake used to strike me as exotic. In fact, it isn’t, especially in olive-producing nations like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cooks debate, however, whether to use a mild olive oil that isn’t noticeable in the finished product or one that draws attention to itself.

I am squarely in the latter camp. To my palate, not even a particularly strong oil would overwhelm a cake, but I do want to detect its essence, so I reach for the extra-virgin. To me it’s a flavor that you notice but can’t quite put your finger on. The oil makes these cakes exceptionally moist and gives them staying power. Well wrapped, they’ll taste great for up to three days.


Makes one 9-inch cake

This rich, simple cake is nice on its own (it’s good for breakfast) or served with a dollop of whipped cream and cooked or fresh fruit.

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan

A restaurant’s take: Olive oil cake trifle

An old family recipe gets a new life at Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square.

1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup milk
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

With the rack in the middle position heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour a 9-inch springform pan (or coat with nonstick baking spray) and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt, and set aside.

With a hand-held or standing mixer, beat the eggs and 1 cup sugar in the bowl at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Adjust speed to low, slowly add the milk and vanilla to the egg mixture, and beat to combine thoroughly, 5 to 10 seconds. Add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the ¾ cup oil, mixing until just incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining oil. Scrape down the bowl and add remaining flour mixture; adjust speed to medium-low and mix until batter is just incorporated and smooth, about 15 seconds (do not overmix). Scrape the batter into the pan, sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and bake until slightly puffed, beginning to brown, the edges just pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan after 20 minutes (do not overbake).

Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes. Remove sides of the pan and cool cake to room temperature. Carefully remove the pan bottom and transfer to a serving plate. Slice and serve.

Recipe: Simple olive oil cake , 4.8 out of 10 based on 63 ratings

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