Olive Oil Cake


To my great delight, the heat in New York has given it a rest (knock on wood) for the time being. Of course, the first thing I did was to heat up my kitchen–first by making a lasagna, and then by whipping up this little delight. I’ve been hankering after an olive oil cake since I watched Top Chef: Masters (don’t judge) last week, when Michael Chiarello made one as a dessert for his three-course meal. Or was it his buffet? I don’t remember.  His didn’t come out that well–it was judged too soggy. I was kind of glad because in the long run it helped to lead my man Rick Bayless to victory, but nevertheless I thought the recipe itself was a good idea that I hadn’t tried before.

Anyway, this past weekend I was headed downtown on the second avenue bus to meet Jason for dinner, forgetting, of course, that the second avenue bus takes forever to go eighty blocks. Luckily, I was in possession of the September Issue…of Bon Appetit, that is. One of the first recipes to catch my eye was this little number, straight from the pages of the RSVP section (basically the mad libs section of BA: “I ate ___(food)____ at __(restaurant)____ in ___(city)___and it was __(adjective)_______.  How do you make it?”)  And what did I find there, but a reader’s request for the recipe for olive oil cake from Abraco coffee shop here in Manhattan!

Olive Oil Cake (Recipe from Abraco Coffee Shop; in September 2009 issue of Bon Appetit):

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (I used coarse sea salt because that’s what I had).
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup mild-flavored olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x3x5 inch metal loaf pan. Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Then whisk the eggs, milk, olive oil, and orange peel in a medium bowl to blend. I ended up using the peel of one whole orange. I briefly contemplated throwing some juice in there, too, but I’m glad that I didn’t–it was just the right amount of orangey. Also, it looks pretty when you add put these wet ingredients together:


Gradually add the milky orangey eggy oil mixture to the dry ingredients.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan and find something to do while it bakes for the next hour–I watched a rerun of Mad Men, in case you were wondering.  Start checking after 55 minutes or so, since all ovens have their own quirks. When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. It took me 65 minutes to achieve done-ness, so be patient. By now your kitchen, if you live in normal-sized quarters, or your apartment and half the neighbors’ abodes, if you’re me, should be filled with the cheery, citrusy smell of this luscious cake.

This cake was a great combination of sweet and savory (but how could it not be, with a cup of sugar and half a cup of olive oil?), and the real treat here came from the coarse salt. I like using coarse salt in baked goods because right when you’re not expecting it, you hit a little pocket of saltiness that’s a lot more “ooh!” than “ew.”  I might cut down on the sugar next time and also explore other add-ins. An investigation of olive oil cake recipes brought such flavors as lemon, rosemary, peach, plum, almond, and hazelnut.

Here’s what’s left 24 hours later:


I’m not ashamed.


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3 Responses to “Olive Oil Cake”

  1. sis Says:

    i said add poppyseeds next time maybe

  2. Mamyte Says:

    My mouth is watering! Pass the remnants through the computer, please!

  3. margaret Says:

    I am making this in, like, 30 minutes!

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