This is the first cake we’ve done from the cookbook. While I was very excited about getting to bake a cake (who doesn’t love cake??), I was also very skeptical. Olive oil in cake? And no butter? What kind of blasphemy is this?? Never being one to back down from a challenge, I tackled the recipe head on.
The first ingredient: all purpose flour. Check.
The second: buckwheat flour. Halt. I only keep all purpose and whole wheat on hand. I didn’t even look at Winn Dixie for buckwheat flour when I was there earlier in the week. I called New Yokel to see if they had some. I was going to the farmer’s market on Thursday anyway, so I would be close by. They had some, but it was $6 and some change. A little steep for flour in my book, especially since I wasn’t even sure if I would like it. $6 helped me make the decision to use the whole wheat flour suggestion from the What Else? section.
Number three: ground blanched almonds. Shoot. None of those either. I looked at a couple stores and only found whole almonds. I was at the Evil Empire getting a fishing license so I bee bopped over to the nuts to see if they had some ground almonds. Still no dice. I bought a bag of whole almonds and decided to deal with it after camping. Turns out you can blanch the skins off whole almonds and grind them yourself. Who knew?? Not this gal. But I’ll tell ya, blanching and peeling almond skins takes dedication. I poured boiling water over some almonds in a bowl. I allowed the almonds to sit in the water for a minute or two (I was in the middle of cooking with a rowdy 3 year old running around, so I lost track of time) and rinsed them in cold water. Dinner was ready, so we ate and peeled the almonds after dinner. Little Guy actually liked peeling them. Mommy was not so entertained. All I was thinking was, “this cake better be dang good”. The almonds took a ride in the food processor and presto! ground almonds. I peeled way too many, so I had about a cup left over. I’m gonna find a really fantastic recipe to use those in.
The other ingredients were basic cake ingredients with the addition of orange juice and zest. I did cut back on the sugar a tad after reading Alicia’s post. The cake came together really quickly at this point. Dry ingredients in one bowl. Wet in another. Whisk together wet, fold in dry. Check. Check. Check. The batter at this point smelled and looked a little odd. The orange was very sweet and fruity smelling, the almonds quite nutty after their trip in the FP, but then there was this really strong olive oil smell. It had me wondering how much of that olive oil would stand out in the finished product. The batter was also very runny. No turning back now. I poured it into my prepared 9 inch pan and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. I let the cake cool while I read Magic School Bus to a still very rowdy toddler. After goodnight hugs and kisses, I turned the cake out onto a cooling rack and had a taste (a very small taste because I was still very full from dinner).
The cake was super moist. It had a course texture I wasn’t quite expecting. I think it was the almonds. I don’t have the nicest food processor (ahem, Santa…), so they didn’t grind nearly as fine as I wanted. The orange really stood out. I used some super sweet and juicy navel oranges. Their freshness shined alongside the nutty earthiness of the almond. The olive oil taste that I was so worried about wasn’t noticeable at all. While the cake was pretty good, it seemed like it needed something. It really seemed more like a “vessel” cake deserving of a topping. Oh yeah, the vanilla mascarpone cheese. I didn’t buy any of those ingredients either. Both vanilla beans and mascarpone cheese were a little too expensive for this week’s grocery budget, so I bought some strawberries and cool whip. It made a good pre-run snack this morning and Little Guy enjoyed a piece before dinner. This weekend I plan to try the cake again with some toppings. Would I make it again? Maybe, if the mood for a cake strikes and there is no butter or milk in the house. But then again, that rarely happens around here.