Friday, January 30, 2015

Olive Oil Cake with Candied Citrus

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too 

This cake is such a wonderful mix of textures and flavors. I gained my inspiration from Instagram, where I had seen a couple of wonderful postings of these candied orange or lemon topped Olive Oil Cakes. I wasn't quite sure what I would think of a cake made with olive oil. I have made cornbread with olive oil before, and the flavor was just a little too overpowering.  I mentioned something to my mom about making a cake with Olive Oil and her reaction was, "ewww!" But actually, it is quite delicious and perfectly balances out the flavors of   the other ingredients. Cakes like these are quite popular in Italian and Middle Eastern cooking, not surprising when you think about where olives grown and are in high supply. As I found from reading many recipes, often the syrup used for candying the fruit is made with honey, another typical feature of middle eastern desserts.

I looked through so many recipes and read a few different blogs about making this cake. From each I gathered bits of knowledge, which I incorporated into this particular recipe that I used,  from  Teresa Blackburn's blog foodonfith. She altered it from the New York Times, and makes hers with Red Grapefruit. I made mine with a combination of citrus fruit, Meyer Lemons, Cara Cara Lemons and Blood Oranges. I also added in some crystalized ginger, for a little extra zing. What I think makes this recipe so wonderful is the cornmeal. It gives it a perfect heartiness, but stays light and moist with the yogurt and olive oil. I also love that it is made with whole wheat flour instead of white. I made mine in a bundt pan, but you could do it in a cake pan or as Teresa Blackburn does, a cast iron skillet.


  • 1 bundt pan
  • 1/2 stick of Butter, softened, plus some to butter to grease the pan
  • 2/3 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar in the raw, plus a little to sprinkle into the pan, so the cake won't stick 
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup Yellow Cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup of Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Generous pinch of Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup lowfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large piece of Candied Ginger, chopped
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 Cara Cara orange
  • 1 Blood orange
  • Juice from 1 meyer lemon
  • Zest from 1 meyer lemon and 1 cara cara orange
Step 1:   
Preheat oven to 350˚

In a sauce pan, or if using a cake pan or skillet, melt the 1/2 stick of butter, swishing as it melts. Pour the butter into your bundt pan (if using one), then mix in the brown sugar and lemon juice and mix with a wooden spoon until sugar has melted. Stir in about half of the candid ginger. Set aside. 

Step 2: 
Make sure that all your fruit is washed well. Cut off the ends of the fruit. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the fruit into thin rounds. (1/8 inch or so). When all the fruit is cut, layer it into the sugar and butter mixture in the pan. I started with the lemons, as they are smaller so they would be on top of the cake, then layered on the Blood Orange, then the Cara Cara. Press them lightly into the syrup. Rub the sides of the cake pan with softened butter and sprinkle with a bit of the raw sugar.

Step 3: 
In a medium bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder.

Step 4: 
In a small bowl, using your fingers, mix together the raw sugar and the citrus zest, really rub the zest into the sugar, so the oil will infuse the sugar. It will smell really fragrant!

Step 5: 
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix together the sugar zest mix and the olive oil. Mix until light and creamy. Add one egg in at a time, mixing with the mixer. When all eggs have mixed in add in the vanilla and the yogurt. Mix well. 

Step 6: 
A half cup at a time, add the dry mix to the wet mix, mixing lightly each time. Don't over mix. Pour the batter into the pan. Place on middle rack of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is golden and spring to the touch, or when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Step 7: 
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Place an oven proof plate over the top of the cake, holding firmly invert the entire cake, so that it comes out on the plate. Let cool. 

Serve with a drizzle of plain greek yogurt, sweeter with Maple Syrup and with a touch of orange zest mixed in. Of course, whipped cream would be wonderful too. 

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