While I’m back in Charleston working with Helene Dujardin, Clare Barboza & Tami Hardeman for two photo workshops, I thought I’d share a couple items from LAST Fall. This olive oil cake is actually one that I made (and photographed) to celebrate my parents’ birthdays last year. With all the craziness of my work schedule & wedding planning in the fall of 2011, the images & recipe never made it into a post. I’m remedying the situation now. This cake is too good not to share. Better late than never, right?
I was fortunate to have my parents and my sisters fly to Charleston for a whirlwind weekend of wedding dress shopping last autumn. The weekend happened to take place just before my parents’ birthdays, so we used this unusual occurrence of togetherness to have an early celebration. Our celebration included this cake for dessert.
The recipe for this slightly unusual cake comes from one of my favorite “healthier” baking books Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. I wish I had the means to make every recipe from this amazing book. In fact, we utilized a few of her recipes during the Healthy Baking course I taught last year. This olive oil cake, whether made according to the original formula or my variation, remains one of my personal favorites.
Originally both rosemary & dark chocolate are added to the cake batter. The flavor combination of rosemary and chocolate may not be one you have tasted before, and yes, it is a bit unique. While my family does have fairly adventurous palates, I didn’t want to serve them a cake (especially a birthday cake) that may not suite their preferences. Instead, I substituted orange for the rosemary. The orange and the slightly fruity flavor of the olive oil, coupled with the dark chocolate, and the nuttyness of spelt flour all culminate into a delicious, though slightly exotic cake flavor.
Thanks to the olive oil, the cake is most enough on it’s own to not require any icing, but I did still feel the need to adorn it with a dusting of confectioners sugar, a garnish of orange slices & a small side of whipped cream. It is a birthday cake after all!
Olive Oil Cake
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
3/4 c Spelt Flour
1 1/2 c AP flour
3/4 c Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Fine Grain Sea Salt
1 cup olive oil (nice fruity flavored oil, if you have one)
3/4 c Milk (or see note below)
1 1/2 Tbl Orange Zest (or finely chopped fresh rosemary, if you’re feeling adventurous)
5 oz dark chocolate (around 70% cacao), chopped
Confectioners sugar, for garnish
Orange slices, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8” pan with additional olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Sift of the mixture remains lumpy after the whisking. Pour back any bits that may remain (from the Spelt flour) after the sifting process.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks & whites. Add the olive oil, milk, and orange zest.
- Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until nearly combined, then add the dark chocolate.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan & smooth the top
- Bake about 40 minutes, until the top is domed and the color is golden with darkening around the edges. Test it in the center with a skewer (it should come out clean) to ensure done ness.
- Cool & garnish with the confectioners sugar and orange slice. Store any leftovers (without orange garnish) well wrapped at room temperature.
Note: If you’d like to make this cake completely dairy free, it’s pretty easy. Simply substitute soy or almond milk for the whole milk. I've made it dairy free and no one could ever tell!