It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!
I have wanted to try making olive oil cake ever since my mother first figured out that she was lactose intolerant. Plus, you know me: I like to throw myself into recipes that sound a little weird.
So this month, when I was perusing A Spoonful of Thyme, this recipe grabbed my attention quickly.
I have to say, I am particularly proud of this cake (and not just because I baked with fruit!). The first time I made it, it was incredibly sunken in the center…almost like a pancake. But guess what? I finally decided to try my hand at using baker’s math!
If you don’t know this, professional bakers are amazing because they are armed with a set of ratios that universally churn out great, balanced cakes. I am not a professionally trained baker, but I do have a great book written for home bakers that really digs into the science and math of baking: BakeWise. In it, Shirley Corriher details the four ratios necessary to make successful and delicious cakes. (If you don’t have the book but are curious, she also wrote an article for Fine Cooking that gives the same information.)
I am not going to get into it in detail, but when my first cake fell, I dug in, did the math, and discovered three things I could change! First, there was too much leavening in the original cake recipe. Too much leavening actually makes flat cakes, because all the bubbles run into each other and pop rather than puffing the batter up. Thus I decided to completely do away with the baking soda, which left me with a slight acidic (therefore moist, according to Corriher) and properly leavened batter. Second (and third), I minorly increased the amount of fat and liquid in the cake, which better fit the eggs:fat and and liquid:sugar ratios.
So maybe you aren’t interested in the geek side of baking, but if you are, I’d be happy to show you the math I did to fix this recipe! And as you can see from my pictures above, my second cake rose beautifully. It was moist and tender and amazing. It went great with a cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon (and I imagine if you like tea, that would also be delicious!).
This cake is really simple to make! I am imagining myself serving it at tea time, or after dinner (how very Laura Petri of me…). You should whip one up and do both of those things!