The Dish | Olive Oil Cake

There are countless versions of this cake but no matter which recipe you use, it’s always tender, light, and beyond easy to make. This is a heartier but still delicate adaptation of Mark Bittman’s recipe in “How to Bake Everything” (2016 edition). Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil and the cake will carry the delicate, herbaceous flavors all the way through baking. There’s no need to splurge on the finest or most expensive oil; it’s fine to use one you’d add to salads or use as a garnish. The addition of citrus zest and juice will accentuate the olive oil’s natural aromas and flavors.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for greasing the cake pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fine whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour; Koda Farms brand is readily available)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white baker’s sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
  • 1/2 cup dairy milk, or a creamy nut-based milk such as macadamia or soy.
  • Heat the oven to 350’F and lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with olive oil. 
  • Cut a wide strip of parchment paper the width of the pan leaving extra length to run up each side of the pan and about 1 1/2 inches beyond the edge. Press the parchment paper into the pan. Cut narrow strips of parchment paper to cover the remaining two sides of the pan.
  • In a large bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs, juice, zest, and milk. Whisk by hand or in a mixer on low speed until combined.
  • Into another bowl sift together the dry ingredients and stir by hand until combined.
  • If you are mixing by hand, add the dry ingredients to the wet and with a spatula or wooden spoon gently fold to thoroughly combine (there should be no lumps of flour). If you are using a mixer, replace the whisk attachment with the paddle then add the dry ingredients. Mix on the lowest speed until just combined. I like to use the paddle to fold the dry ingredients into the wet a little before mixing to avoid a cloud of flour.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes, then use the flaps of parchment paper as handles to lift the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. You can cut the cake after about 10 minutes — it will be fragile, so use a sharp serrated knife — or wait for it to cool. 
  • Optional: glaze the cake with a light icing, dust with powdered sugar to serve, or leave as it is.
  • To store: wrap the cooled cake in clean parchment paper and store in a cool place. No need to refrigerate — well-wrapped, the cake will stay fresh for several days on the counter.

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