"A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece."
Do you remember the first cake you ever made? The one that probably came from one of those waxy plastic pouches, stuffed inside a discreet box in the baking aisle above the bags of chocolate chips?
Mine was a funfetti cake. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time, dumping the deliriously sweet smelling powder into a bowl, and mixing in eggs, oil, and water. All of a sudden, I had made a cake, and it was so damn easy. I mean, you can’t fuck up a boxed cake mix even if you tried - they make it foolproof. So all of a sudden, making cakes becomes the most fun weekend activity ever. You’re good at making cakes… you love making cakes.
And then you decide to become more ambitious.
Because making cake from a box is a cop out, and you finally understand that while that Duncan Hines chocolate cake does in fact look brown, it actually tastes like nothing, and so you invest in a Kitchenaid. Suddenly you’re waking up in the middle of the night because you forgot to take the butter out of the refrigerator to soften. You now have to invest in cake flour, and instead of dumping your oil and eggs all in one go, you have to alternate between wet and dry ingredients, making sure not to overmix. Can you even substitute Dutch-processed cocoa in this particular recipe? Do I really need to invest in an offset spatula? (The answer is yes). All of a sudden, you hate making cakes. You hate having to wait for it to cool so your homemade swiss meringue buttercream doesn’t melt, and don’t even get me started on the anal retentive, hair pulling process that is trying to frost a cake so it has perfectly straight sides, and piping a perfect shell pattern border. You have an entire dishwasher filled, simply from making one dessert, and have total spent the better part of 7 hours, making a cake.
For the longest time, this was the only form of cake I knew - the all american, 3 layer, frosting laded decadency that has filled the birthday photo albums of every single person in America. It really wasn’t until I started working in a restaurant that the idea of more simple, but still equally celebratory and elegant everyday cakes started latching on, such as this olive oil cake. There’s no butter you need to soften, no cake flour, or thank the lord any sort of frosting or buttercream you have to contend with. But it’s still special though - scented with almond and orange, with a light schmear of whipped cream instead of the white hydrogenated, toothache sweet, gloop that comes from the little cans. It’s the elegant, understated, hipster version of a celebration cake for someone who now hates making cake.
OLIVE OIL & ALMOND CAKE WITH STONE FRUIT SALAD
adapted from Olea Farms
olive oil cake
1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
½ cup of almond flour
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 ¾ cup of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of olive oil
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 teaspoons of orange zest
1 ¼ cups of whole milk
stone fruit salad
2 red plums, sliced
2 white nectarines, sliced
1 pint of bing cherries, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons of sugar, depending on the fruit
sweetened whipped cream
for the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 8x3 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, almond flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, olive oil, almond extract, orange zest, and whole milk. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for around 40 minutes until the center is set. Don’t worry if the batter seems very runny.
for the stone fruit salad/to assemble
Toss all of the ingredients together. Serve the salad with the cake alongside the whipped cream.