When I mention the words “olive oil cake,” I am always surprised at the reactions I get. They range from “what cake?” to “eew” to simply wrinkling their nose. Each time I am utterly amazed how many people have not heard of olive oil cake and consequently how many people are missing out on something so wonderful.
Especially in the gluten-free world I would think this would be huge. 1. Half the people diagnosed with celiac disease are also allergic to casein, a protein found in dairy. 2. One of the main complaints about gluten-free baked goods is that they are often to greasy. Well I’ll spare you the scientific explanation (I have learned over the years that most people do not care about fat and protein molecules) and simply say the olive oil binds better than butter to gluten-free flours. So you get a cake that is moist without being greasy.
Then as a bonus this cake is incredibly light. Light but still moist and flavorful?! Seems impossible especially since many gluten-free baked goods are so heavy. Again I won’t bore you with talk of emulsifiers and just say olive oil has magical properties. It’s more fun that way. Don’t you agree?
- Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
- Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- ½ cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¼ cup flour mix A or B
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch of allspice
- zest of 1 clementine or tangerine
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ⅔ cup spanish olive oil*
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 3 large eggs
- * A note on olive oil: While this cake has a distinctive Italian flavor, I do not recommend using an Italian oil. You need to use an oil that is fruity. Not being an olive oil connoisseur myself, my research led me to olive oils from Spain which apparently are fruity. The bottle claimed the oil was “best used uncooked, as heat will lessen its aromatic properties.” Perfect! This is exactly what is needed in an olive oil cake. Too strong an oil makes a really bad cake. I learned this the hard way with too many cakes ending up in the trash.
- Position the rack in the center of oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line with parchment paper a 9-inch springform pan.
- In a small bowl, sift the unsweetened cocoa and whisk in the boiling water until all the cocoa is dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, zest, espresso powder and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar, olive oil and eggs and beat on medium high until thoroughly combined (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the bowl. Tip: If using a hand mixer with the whisk attachments, it may combine faster than 3 minutes. Stop mixing when it is combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed and pour in the cocoa mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix until combined then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until it is well risen and the cake has come away from the sides of the pan. If you press the cake lightly with your finger, it should spring back. Tip: If you are not sure if the cake is done, leave it a little longer. It is better to "over" bake a bit than "under" bake.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before running a butter knife all around the cake and removing the outer ring.
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