bites of happiness: grapefruit olive oil cake

One of my favorite things I've ever hauled home from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor is their Olive Oil Cake.  It's a little bundt cake with amazingly fruity olive oil, zesty lemon, sugared almonds and a very delicate crumb for such a moist cake.  Kelly remembered how much I loved that cake and sent one for my birthday.  You have to read the note.  My girls have stellar writing skills and can be so funny.

and here I have to admit one thing about being 50:
I can no longer tell if something is in focus looking at the screen on my camera
going to have to pony up for a good old-fashioned view-finder
because clearly using readers and a camera is not an option
well, it is an option but not one I care to employ

It took me a week, but piece by piece that cake made each of those seven days a little happier.  I tried baking a version a year or so ago and did not have the right olive oil.  That's very important.  I e-mailed Zingerman's and they recommended one of their beautiful olive oils, but I hedged on buying one more bottle of olive oil. And an expensive one at that.  Right now I have six different olive oils lined up on my counter and in my cupboard and I have my favorites for different uses.  My $21 bottle (and it's not that big) is reserved just for dipping warm crusty artisan bread (Zingerman's bakes some mean artisan loaves if you ever get to Michigan or splurge on a mail order).  Anyway,  in the middle of this debate my lulu friend Amanda and I carpooled after a Saturday morning yoga class to the Indy Winter Market and I bought a yummy bottle of blood orange olive oil from Artisano's Oils.  Purely for baking an olive oil cake.  So when I baked this cake, I had to save one piece for Amanda to enjoy at work.  Greg and I devoured that cake.  

This version is more like the French yogurt cakes and less like the bundt cake from Zingerman's, but the taste is very similar.  It's the crumb.  You have to use butter to get that crumb and I haven't found a recipe that calls for butter and olive oil yet.  But the quest will continue.  For now, taste your olive oil and find one that is full bodied and a little fruity.  You will use zest from two grapefruits and juice from one, so remember to zest your grapefruits before slicing one in half to juice it (much easier to zest a fruit when it is whole).  If grapefruit is not your thing, sub out oranges or lemons and their zest for the grapefruit.  You can also use a lemon flavored olive oil too, blood orange just sounded good to me.  The recipe calls for 1/2 of the sugar to be turbinado sugar (coarse sugar, demerara sugar, sugar in the raw), but you can substitute granulated sugar.  It is fun to have turbinado sugar on hand to sprinkle atop baked goods, however.  So along with your six different olive oils you can have four kinds of sugar.  Next time I bake this I'm keeping the syrup, but trading out the icing for sugared slivered almonds.  I'll post that when I figure it out.  It won't be long.  I still have 6 grapefruits and 2/3 a bottle of blood orange olive oil wanting to be made into cakes!

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

1 1/2 C flour
2 T freshly grated grapefruit zest (2 large grapefruits)
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C turbinado or raw coarse sugar 
1/2 C olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 T grapefruit juice 
1/3 C plain yogurt 

2 T granulated sugar
1/3 C grapefruit juice

glaze (optional)
1 C confectioner's sugar
2 T grapefruit juice
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  

In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugars with your fingertips to help release as much grapefruit essence as possible.  Whisk in the oil until the mixture is smooth.  Add the eggs and whisk until well combined, scraping sides of bowl.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a liquid measuring cup stir together 2 T of grapefruit juice and the yogurt.  Alternately add the flour and yogurt mixtures to the sugar and oil mixture in the large bowl, stirring to combine.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, or until tester comes out clean.  

Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes.  While cake is cooling, make the syrup.  Stir 2 T sugar into 1/3 cup grapefruit juice in a saucepan over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved.  After 10 minutes, invert cake onto cooling rack over a sheet of waxed paper or parchment.  Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick or fork.  Slowly drizzle or brush the syrup over the hot cake allowing the syrup to  soak in as much as possible.  Cool cake completely.

For the optional glaze, whisk together 2 T grapefruit juice and 1 C confectioner's sugar along with a pinch of salt.  Spoon over cake allowing glaze to drip down sides if desired.  


zest, sugars, and olive oil

juicing the grapefruit
finished cake before brushing with syrup
(my camera battery was playing dead, sorry about the gaps in photos)
glazed cake


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