A Slice of Summer: Olive Oil Loaf Cake

Happy first day of summer, everyone! 

To kick off the season, I’m passing along a recipe perfectly suited to the standard start to an Edmonton summer.

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Which is to say: rain. Bathtubs of rain.  

Not that I’m complaining in the least - I’m the type to simultaneously melt and burn as soon as the mercury rises above room temperature (a pretty sight indeed!) - but I suspect that one of the last things you want to do when you get home sopping-wet is kick back on the patio with a popsicle. 

So today, it’s cake.   

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A dense-but-not-heavy loaf cake, super-subtlely flavoured with bottle-green olive oil, studded with bits of bright lemon zest and sweet sultanas, and topped off with crunchy walnuts. (The original recipe specifies pine nuts, but I’m saving my rainy day funds for something other than $65/kg nuts. I don’t doubt that the pine nuts - which really do taste piney - would be outstanding here though!)

The result of the minimal effort it takes to throw this together is something I imagine a Mediterranaean grandmother would whip up from memory in celebration of the winter holidays. Which works, really, given that a Mediterranaean winter isn’t so different from an Edmonton summer.    

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Weather ramblings aside, this cake truly is the perfect companion to a rainy day. Just add a steaming cup of Earl Grey and you’ve crafted a lovely start to what’s soon to become a gloriously-sunny season.  

Once again, happy first day of summer - I hope you have an amazing day!
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Olive Oil Loaf Cake
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf

Ingredients
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cups milk (I used 2%)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sultana raisins, tossed with a bit of flour*
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup walnuts (or other nut, like pine nuts or hazelnuts) 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in beaten eggs, milk and olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until flour mixture is almost entirely incorporated with wet ingredients. Add raisins and zest and mix just until evenly dispersed through batter.** 

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3. Transfer batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth out so that the top is even. Sprinkle batter with nuts, pressing nuts into dough slightly. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist, but clean.*** Cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the rack.

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*Tossing dried fruit with a bit of flour before adding it to the batter will keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom of your cake. Cool, hey?
**The goal here is to mix everything just until the last bit of flour has disappeared into the wet ingredients; any more, and your cake will be tough. 
***If the toothpick comes out covered in batter, keep baking!

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