Olive Oil Cake

I used to have a boyfriend, a chef, that would ask me really loaded questions, all the time, like “What is the BEST soup you’ve ever eaten?!” or “What is the BEST salad you’ve ever had?” or “What should I do with all of those oranges?”

Alright, the last one’s not sooo bad, but the other ones, geez! What’s a girl to say? Am I supposed to answer with “…that soup you made last week…” or was he looking for inspiration? Usually these questions came really early in the morning or really late at night, which led me to believe that he was, in fact, looking for inspiration, but I still never knew how to answer.

Now, years later, I find myself handling my moments of creative block in the same manner. Lucky for me, I like to surround myself with all things brilliant, including my friends. A few years ago,  on a routine-ish trip to New York, I met up with one of my top 10 favorite people in the world, Allen Stafford, for dinner at his then new apartment. He made the most delicious dinner for me in his surprisingly well equipped Brooklyn kitchen. It’s only fair that I stop here for a moment to explain my love for Allen….

I met Allen about 5 years ago when we were both working at Gramercy Tavern. He very well may be one of the most talented and hilarious individuals to have ever walked the face of this planet. Literally, to know him is to love him. Originally from Talking Rock , Georgia (I shit you not.), Allen has lived in NYC for 15 years, and originally moved there to attend NYU film school, but ended up staying because NYC felt like home.  Amongst other things (artist, baker, writer) Allen loves all things food and restaurant, so naturally we hit it off immediatley. Like me, Allen wants to know food from the core. He wants to not only know where his goat cheese is coming from, but also the name and birthday of the goat from which the milk came.  Like I said, I love this man.

One thing that Allen can do like no other though, is bake. On the aformentioned evening, in which Allen made me dinner,  the answer to the tremendously popular question “What is the BEST application of olive oil in a dessert that you’ve ever had?” was etched into my soul.  Allen had made a Citrus Olive Oil Cake layered with lime marmalde, soaked with ruby grapefruit-cello (like lemoncello, but made by hand in a friend’s NYC apartment, bottled with love and hand delivered to Allen himself!),  and served with a frozen orange custard. Yeah, all that for little ol’ me. Okay, it was left over from the previous days’ dinner party, but nonetheless,  it was nothing short of awe inspiring.

While I’ve thought about this cake a trillion times in the four years it’s been since it has graced my lips, I had never asked for the recipe.  I don’ know why, I just didn’t. But on a recent trip to NYC, during a much needed visit with Allen, we began reminiscing about the cake, and all that went into it, down to the kind of olive oil he’d used (Olio Agrumato Al Mandarino‘ made by Olio & Olivi). I think we talked about the cake for an hour. We are huge nerds. I left with the recipe.

It turns out that the cake had been adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe. I don’t know that I’ll ever get my hands on any of that rubycello, and I certainly don’t have any lime marmalade lying around, so I’ve made a few adjustments to Allen’s adjustments, and I think the result is divine.

Four Citrus Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary

oven 350

I baked this cake in 3 9″ pans so that I could make the cake look more like a torte, layered with marmalade. The original recipe called for fennel seeds and fresh rosemary in the cake. I omitted the anise completley, and opted to put the rosemary in the marmalade glaze, as I wanted the flavor of the olive oil to really stand out. This is also quite delicious served with a little meyer lemon cream.

  • 1 cup orange juice, reduced to 1/4 cup and cooled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups high quality extra virgin olive oil, such as arbequino
  • zest of 1 of each of the following: lime, meyer lemon, orange, and grapefruit
  • 2 cups a.p. flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar and all of the zest. With the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for a few minutes to release the citrus oils. Add the eggs and continue to beat until a little frothy. Add the milk ,yogurt, olive oil, reduced orange juice and lemon juice and mix until combined. Make a whole in the center of the dry ingredients and all at once dump the olive oil mix in. Using a whisk, mix until just combined and there are no lumps. Be careful not to overmix!

Divide batter between 3 9″ cake pans lined with parchment and brushed with olive oil. Bake at 35o for 20-25 minutes.

While the cake is baking, ake your glaze. In a small pot, add all of the marmalade, rosemary, and the 3 tbsp of lemon juice. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Turn off heat and keep warm.

When the cakes are done, invert them onto wire racks and while still warm, brush the marmalde over the tops of the cakes. Stack when completley cool.

74 Responses to “I love this cake almost as much as I love its inspiration…”

  1. sonja said:

    Feb 19, 10 at 7:08 am

    Hey Rachel – what’s the importance of having eggs at room temperature?

  2. Rachel said:

    Feb 19, 10 at 7:24 pm

    Hey Sonja! It’s important to have all of your ingredients at room temperature so that they combine more easily. For details read this! http://rachelgoing.com.customers.tigertech.net/2009/12/01/i-mess-things-up-so-that-you-dont-have-to-episode-1/

  3. kamran siddiqi said:

    Feb 26, 10 at 5:42 pm

    I could so take a bite out of my screen right now. And you know I would try it too! Great post rachel, and keep the great pics with the new camera coming. :) I’ll have to search for Meyer lemons in the city, but if I can’t find them, I’ll have this recipe bookmarked, until I do. Great post! :)

  4. Rachel said:

    Feb 26, 10 at 11:26 pm

    Kamran! Try Whole Foods for Meyer lemons!

  5. sonja said:

    Jun 05, 10 at 3:59 am

    I made an olive oil cake the other night (not from this recipe). Turned out super dry. really sad. though the people who made me dinner were even sadder because I messed up their dessert. :-(

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