Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Potluck Recipe #20: Olive Oil Cake

An impromptu potluck (at my house!) called for a dessert that could accompany another guest's abundant fruit share — oh, what to do with an excess of strawberries and blueberries? Such a problem to have! Whatever I made, I had about a half hour to get her in the oven and no butter or shortening.

Olive oil cake! Sounds funny, but the combination of olive oil and fluffy eggs renders a delicate cake only slightly heavier than angel food and perhaps even more tender. Overall, the cake is not too sweet and pairs deliciously with fresh strawberries and blueberries. That said, the little bit of sugar sprinkled across the top of the cake just before baking forms a very thin crust, which makes the cake a tasty treat on its own, no berries needed.

And yes, the prep time is just under 20 minutes.

Olive Oil Cake

(serves 8 to 10)

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
1 cup, plus 1 1/2 tbsp., sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper and oil it, too.
2. Beat together yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl at high speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and lemon juice, beating until just combined . Using a rubber spatula, add flour mixture in two batches, folding in until just combined.
3. Beat four egg whites with salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating until the egg whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
4. Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then thoroughly fold in remaining whites.
5. Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar on top.
6. As it bakes, cake will puff up and turn a light, golden brown. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center come out clean. Cool cake on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove the side. Cool cake completely before serving — top of the cake will flatten out as it cools and pan bottom and parchment should remove easily.

Notes: You can add lemon zest for a more lemony cake or skip the lemon altogether and sub in some almond extract. I also like to shake a little powdered sugar across the top of the cake for decoration.

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