All good things must be shared — especially when it comes to recipes. Lucky for me, I have a great group of friends who are talented chefs, and we regularly exchange our best recipes. Such was the case last week, when my good friend Chef Malin Parker told me about Chef Laurie Crueley’s delicious olive oil cake.
I was so excited to make it (and of course, put my own spin on it) that I haphazardly forgot a crucial ingredient: milk. As the cakes were baking in the oven and I started to clean-up the kitchen, I realized I forgot to add the milk. Slightly panicked, I began to think of possible outcomes — I knew that without milk, the cakes would be heavy and dense. My mind raced to think of ways to alleviate the heaviness and slowly but surely, an improvised topping was created.
My first inclination was to create a warm almond milk mixture and pour it over the hot cakes (similar to what you see in tres leche cake recipes) but in keeping with the Mediterranean inspired olive oil cake, I decided to do a mixture of fresh orange juice, honey and nuts. The result was simply fantastic.
I am posting an updated version of Chef Laurie’s recipe below. It combines her cake recipe (yes, with the milk) and my nutty honey based topping. I also like an addition of coarsely ground almonds to the cake. The nuts add a rich, buttery taste to the batter and compliments the flavor of olive oil nicely. For the cake, I recommend using the best olive oil you can find, as this will greatly enhance the outcome.
Since this is the time of year many people enjoy warm drinks such as tea, hot cider, or coffee, this cake will compliment your mugs very nicely. And while you’re enjoying your tea and cake, feel free to watch this video of Laurie and I in the kitchen. Enjoy!
Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake
Inspired by Laurie Crueley, Updated by Chris Kohatsu
Yield: 1 cake (9 inch round)
For the cake:
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange (finely grated)
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup good olive oil (extra virgin is fine)
1/3 cup marsala wine
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almonds (coarsely ground)
For the topping:
1 cup each walnuts, almonds, pine nuts (chopped)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan or 8 x 8 square and set aside.
- Mix the eggs and sugar until incorporated and foamy, then add the zest, milk, marsala, olive oil and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, while the mixer is running, until all the flour is added and a nice cake batter is formed. Stir the chopped almonds into the batter.
- Transfer batter to prepared cake pan. Tap pan to release any air bubbles.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cake is ready when a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Set the cake aside to cool slightly, and prepare the topping.
- Combine the raisins and orange blossom water in a small bowl. Add a few tablespoons of hot water (just enough to cover) to allow the raisins to plump.
- Heat a large saute pan. Once hot, add all of the nuts and toast, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the honey, orange juice, cinnamon and raisins to the nuts. Lower the heat and stir until well combined, about 1 minute.
- Turn out the cake onto a large serving dish or baking sheet. Pour the hot nut mixture over the cake and spread into an even layer.
- Slice and serve warm cake immediately. Drizzle with more honey and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.