Olive Oil Cake

Russell Norman's recipe for Olive Oil Cake is a sublimely simple bake that results in a perfectly moist cake with distinctly Italian flavours.

Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking
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Introduction

It may seem counter-intuitive to bake a cake using an ingredient so firmly associated with savoury dishes, but olive oil cake is an everyday classic that feels distinctly Italian. It’s a delicious alternative to butter-based cakes and has a rather grown-up flavour profile, but this will change dramatically depending on the type of olive oil that you use. It goes without saying that you should use the best quality olive oil you can get, but grassy, peppery oils don’t lend themselves very well to this cake. Look for an oil that has floral, herby or fruity notes instead. Because it is made with oil rather than butter, this cake keeps nicely moist for a good few days. If you want to reanimate it, however, the glaze for the lemon polenta cake on page 212 of Venice works very well as a pick-me-up poured on top.

Serves 8

Ingredients

320ml extra virgin olive oil
300g caster sugar
4 large eggs
½ tsp fine salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml whole milk
the juice and zest on 1 lemon
the juice and zest of 1 orange
2 tsp baking powder
350g '00' flour

Essential kit

You will need: a 24cm cake tin.

Instructions

Use a little of the olive oil to grease a 24cm cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas 4.

Put the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the olive oil, milk, lemon juice and orange juice. Add the two zests. In a separate bowl, mix the baking powder into the flour, and when combined, fold into the olive oil mixture until smooth.

Pour the cake mix into the greased tin and place in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the top feels springy, a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle and the cake is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm, generous slices with a sweet wine, or enjoy cold the next day with coffee.

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