I love a recipe that surprises me. Most of the time that comes from using a new ingredient or technique, but like today’s recipe, sometimes it’s about finding a flavor combination that just sings.
I have a regular game group, and usually we host because if the girls are staying with us on a weekend, we want to make sure they can go to bed, but all the grownups can keep playing. But recently my friends A & D decided to host, and since A is such a fabulous cook, she volunteered to make something delicious for us all while we ate. I requested her amazing garlic soup, and she complied, with the request that we bring things that go with it. Since my favorite is baking (so science-y!), I wanted to do a dessert, but had to find something that would both complement, but not be overwhelmed by eating so much garlic-y goodness. And during that time of pondering, I came across this recipe.
101 Cookbooks is one of my favorite food blogs because she always does interesting delicious things that are usually out of my comfort zone, and the photos are so good. This was the exact right recipe at the exact right time. It is, to begin, fairly savory. Most olive oil cakes are not your usually light and frothy affairs, so already it would be good to balance out the garlic. But then it’s got the addition of rosemary – my second favorite herb (the first is sage, you sillies). Thirdly in the savory-train, the flour is not your regular All-Purpose stuff, but spelt flour, something that needed special purchasing in the specialty flour section of my local Whole Foods (one of the few times I thank goodness that people are subject to the whims of things like deciding that “gluten free” is a diet, and not a health necessity). Spelt is a little nuttier than your standard flour, and definitely adds a little oomph to the recipe (though you could probably make it without and still survive).
And since it’s a cake, there’s obviously chocolate. The recipe calls for bittersweet, though when I pulled my boxes of baking chocolate out of the pantry, I discovered I was just shy of the bittersweet total and would have to make do with a small amount of semi-sweet mixed in. No matter – it tasted just fine, nobody noticed, and I hardly remembered until this very moment that I’d had to make a substitution. And speaking of substitutions – while the recipe calls for either an extra-long loaf pan or else a fluted tart pan, I had neither, and simply used two small aluminum loaf pans, the type of which you use mostly for gift baking and can find at the grocery store for cheap. The cakes turned out great, and only require monitoring of color and done-ness with a toothpick.
It’s the kind of cake that you feel happy eating – it does not make you overly full, and even I (who have willpower tests nearly every day) am able to get by with just a slice or two and do not feel the compulsive need to eat the entire cake. Which is not to say it’s not good. It’s just the kind of cake that makes you think before you go back for that second slice. And sometimes you will anyways.
Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
Yield: 8-12 servings
Olive oil for the pan
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch
Preheat the oven to 350F. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan with olive oil. Alternately, I used a long (4 1/2 x 13 inch) loaf pan, and lined it with parchment paper. (I rubbed the two small loaf pans with olive oil, and that worked well too)
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. My cake, in the alternate pan, took closer to 50 minutes (as did my two little loaf pans). When the cake is nearly finished baking, for a bit more color on top finish it under the broiler for a minute. This caramelizes the sugar on top 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.
From: 101 Cookbooks, modifications noted in italics.