I think cupcakes are cute, but I don’t want to eat them.
I’m sure that wedding cake was expensive, but I’ll probably get someone else to eat my slice when you’re not looking.
I’ve just never liked cake all that much. Growing up, cakes were just scarine pastel, frosting rose covered sugar bombs that haunted my dreams. There'd be no actual discernible flavor of any kind, just sweet springy nothingness. And dry. So dryyyyyy.
And now cupcakes. Cupcakes!! It’s just the same thing all over again except in miniature. The Tribble of the dessert world. I’d tell you to take them back to their home planet before they begin to multiply, but it’s already too late.
Then to top it off, I read The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood when I was about 18, and there is an excerpt where the protagonist describes eating cake… “She put a forkful into her mouth and chewed it slowly; it felt spongy and cellular against her tongue, like the bursting of thousands of tiny lungs.” When I read that, I remember putting the book down, and just staring into the abyss. (But honestly I did that many times while reading that book, for obvious reasons not related to cake)
I don’t view myself as very picky generally when it comes to food, but I just can’t move past this whole cake thing. At least not until recently. The past year or two I’ve begun to come around a tiny bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a dessert snob, but I’ve been tasting more cakes from different bakeries and trying new recipes and I think I’m finally seeing the light. For instance, Deru Market's Chocolate Salted Peanut Butter Cake is a monstrosity of a confection and quite tasty. Also I’m pretty sure you would die if you tried to eat a slice by yourself it's so big, which I think is sort of beautiful.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that a) I don’t like a lot of fluff b) I prefer a slightly denser more intensely flavored cake with not too much crumb and c) if there IS frosting of any kind, it needs to not be butter based. I don’t want a oily film on the roof of my mouth thank you.
Which brings me to Olive Oil Cake. I had a simple slice of this many years ago in Capitol Hill at a Basque style tapas bar that no longer exists. It was decadent without being overly rich and the edges were so gorgeously golden crunchy. It struck a chord with me then and I remembered it ever since (I also had a blue cheese cheesecake that night and it was off the chain omg).
I made this cake plain originally, but then when I decided to whip it up for a dinner party awhile back I thought it needed something to make it stand out a little more. Which brought me to the chocolate ganache and then I naturally paired it with salt because: why not? Now I pretty much always add the ganache since it just tastes so right.
We start with the ganache since it needs ample time to cool and come to a spreadable consistency.
If you have any trouble with your cream and butter mixture becoming too cool to completely melt the chocolate, you can just pop it into a metal or glass bowl and warm it up over a small pot of simmering water.
Let that baby have a little private time to cool and thicken.
I usually make the ganache and the cakes as early in the day as possible since both take quite a while to cool completely, especially since these cakes are so dense.
It's sort of soothing to see all my ingredients pre-measured and waiting for me to assemble them.
Combine your eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, liqueur, zest and orange juice, then give it a good whisk.
Sift in your dry ingredients and stir or gently whisk until no lumps are left.
Pour batter into prepared pans. If you don't want to use two pans, I've found that using a regular sized springform works just as well, just don't forget to line the bottom with parchment just like you see here. It makes a world of difference. Then bake!
Love those crispy crackly edges.
'Sup cake, U come round here often?? "wiggles eyebrows awkwardly"
Don't be shy with the ganache, just generously smear that good stuff around. We're going for rustic aka imperfect, which just happens to be a strong suit of mine!!
Eat this cake for breakfast. Eat it for lunch. Eat it for dinner. It's the all occasion cake, you'll get along well.
I love how this looks like I'm about to eat the whole dang cake by myself. Which is totally normal behavior. This is normal right??
I'll be honest. I don't really care if it's not.
Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate Ganache topped with Fleur de Sel
Ganache Ingredients *Make Ganache first!*
1 cups heavy cream
½ cup unsalted butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, butter, sugar and salt on low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl while still hot. Stir the chocolate and vanilla until the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. Put the bowl aside and cool till it has reached a spreadable consistency. At least 2 hours.
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
12 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces 2% milk
2 ounces Grand Marnier
2 ounces fresh orange juice
3 teaspoons orange zest (or zest from 1 whole orange)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 7x2 cake pans, then add a lining of parchment paper to the bottom, grease that as well.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, liqueur, orange juice, and zest. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the wet mixture. Whisk well until combined.
Pour the batter evening between the two greased pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges. Once it has cooled enough for you to safely touch the pans, pop a cake out, peel off the parchment paper, flip over, and place it back on the rack to cool completely.
Assemble that cake!
Put your first cake layer on your plate or cake stand and spread ⅓ of your ganache atop. Then place your second layer cake over that and spread the rest of your ganache over it. You can just spread it around as you like. If it spills over the edges, that totally ok! The more rustic the better.
To finish, sprinkle a few pinches Fleur de Sel on top. It doesn’t need to be french, just as long as it’s a good quality finishing salt with a pleasing flake. I often use Murray River Flake Salt, it has a lovely soft pink hue with a subtle flavor and is from Australia.