Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake (Say Whut??)

One of the wonderful cooking classes that I took from my friend Chef Faye Hess included an olive oil tasting. The tasting grew out of a question someone asked regarding when to use which oil....canola, vegetable, sunflower, safflower, extra virgin olive oil, imported or off-the-shelf olive oil. Well, the answers to those questions can and do fill entire BOOKS. Chef Faye stopped what she was braising, hugged a green can of La Macchia olive oil like a baby and lined up some shot glasses. I closed my eyes and pulled the olive oil through my teeth (do not try this if you already use Sensodyne toothpaste...the chilly air might send you reeling...)

Here's Faye!

Back to La Macchia. I could taste grass. It's the taste of fresh Tuscan air and olives from ancient a liter can. I've walked among those very trees.

It takes one tree's olives to make 1 liter, once a year. Pretty incredible when you compare that with the label on commercial "olive oil" that is sourced from multiple countries, and most likely colored for uniformity. I'm just sayin.'

It was that night in a Queens, NY kitchen that I became an olive oil snob. I'll use Bertolli or Trader Joe's extra virgin olive oil for big jobs like frying or making batches of pesto...but for special creations, I use my liquid gold.

I've blogged about La Macchia olive oil before...and I've shared photos of my 2009 trip to Montevarchi in Italy's Chianti region with Faye and our class. Psssst...I can hook you up. La Macchia is now available in the U.S. It's about $38 per liter. Yep, it's spendy. I don't drink coffee or do this is my indulgence. Contact Faye at or and tell her Dale sent you.

He's one thing you can do with good olive oil. Make a cake.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake.

This recipe via and is adapted from "Good to the Grain" by Kim Boyce
Prep time: 15 min - Cook time: 45 min

Serves 8-12

Olive oil for the pan

Dry ingredients:

3/4 cup / 3 oz / 80g spelt flour ( I used all purpose flour and got a great result...)

1 1/2 cups / 7.5 oz / 210 g all-purpose flour

3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup / 240 ml olive oil

3/4 cup / 180 ml whole milk

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (from your garden, if you have one!)

5 ounces / 140 g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch

Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan with olive oil. Alternately, you can use a long (4 1/2 x 13 inch) loaf pan, and line it with parchment paper.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit. Sprinkle with the second sugar.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. In the alternate loaf pan, it will take closer to 50 minutes. For a  bit more color on top, you can finish it under the broiler for a minute - which caramelizes the sugar on top as well and gives it a bit of crunch. Don't walk away from the cake while it is under the broiler.

The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.

Confessions of a sweet tooth. The word "cake" makes my brain want "sweet" rather than savory. This cake is savory, with a hint of sweetness conveyed through the bittersweet chocolate and sugared top. For a wowie-kazowie experience, you might want to follow my lead. I topped a slice of warm cake with NUTELLA. I then left the planet for a few minutes.

Life is good. Level & Yum. Oooops~~Level & Plumb!

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