Friday, October 12, 2012

Olive Oil Pound Cake

The weather has been annoyingly erratic lately, as it usually is this time of the year.  Last week was positively screaming summer beach time with the sun blazing and everyone walking outside in tank tops and shorts.  Today, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, the sky turned a murky grey and then it decided to pour with rain.  It's the kind of rain that the small just-in-case umbrella tucked in your handbag doesn't stand a chance against.  And if you live where I do, where there's a side street that you must walk through to get anywhere and is dubbed the 'wind tunnel' (apparently a combination of geography, building heights and probably my bad karma), it means that on windy rainy days like this one, getting very, very wet is predestined.

But every dark, stormy cloud has a silver lining, right?  The best thing about this type of weather is that it's the perfect excuse to bake.  So that's what I did.

Since I first made it a few months ago, this has become my dad's favorite cake.  He loves any type of pound cake, but the traditional recipe (1 pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs) honestly makes me blanch.  Even after scaling down it still can't be made very often, my jeans are currently waging a protest against it.  And so, the natural thing to replace butter with in a situation like this?  Oil.  Olive oil, for its fruity taste and health benefits.

And yes I know, this is still not even close to health food, but it's at least healthier than your typical pound cake, and in terms of taste there is very little sacrificed.  The cake is dense, moist and flavorful with the familiar velvety tight crumb of a traditional pound cake.  It doesn't quite have that exact same richness as you would get with a pound cake made of butter, but it comes close.  If you bake this in a bundt pan, it rises tall and looks pretty impressive.  It may be a bit plain, but like a lot of things in cooking simplicity is key here.  It's the sort of cake that will disappear gradually on its own if you put it in the middle of the dining table, like there are invisible hands just waiting around to sneak a piece.  

This is a busy-day, everyday sort of cake - the batter is whipped up in less than 10 minutes and the cake itself is of the long-baking variety, cooking slowly and rising serenely in the oven for over an hour.  It will flood your house with that familiar scent of sweet homemade comfort that manages to bring just that little bit of sunshine into even the worst of all days.  Then, as it cools, cut a slice as you walk past.  And then another.  And before you know it, it's all gone.  

Olive Oil Pound Cake
Adapted from Buttered Up who adapted it from Alice Meidrich 
Makes 1 standard sized loaf or 1 8-inch bundt cake

*Update: For a version with walnuts, check out this post.

Note: The original recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil, but I was out this time round.  Using just extra virgin will give your cake a much deeper flavor, which not everybody likes.  I like to use a mix - half extra virgin and half pure, just to balance it out a little and make it more of an everyday type cake.

Also, I'm sorry I suddenly switched measurement systems here!  I usually do stick to the US system, but the original recipe made a really massive cake which I scaled down and the numbers just don't turn into pretty cup measurements.

225g all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
150ml extra virgin olive oil (see note above)
230g caster sugar (you could use less, around 200g, if you like your cakes not-so-sweet)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 cold large eggs
150ml milk (I use 2%)
Pat of unsalted butter to grease the pan, if you're making a bundt/tube cake

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 175C.  Butter and flour your baking pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together oil, sugar, salt, vanilla and zest until it's well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  When all the eggs are added, beat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and thick.  Add a third of your flour mixture, beat until just incorporated, and then add half the milk.  Repeat with the remaining two thirds of the flour and the milk, ending with flour.  The batter should be a pourable consistency.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  Dust with icing sugar if you like.  The cake will keep, well wrapped, for 3-4 days.


  1. Your dad is good taste ;) this is definitely one of my many favorite cakes too!

    1. I love that I can eat this (relatively) guilt free - always a plus in my book!

  2. This is a wonderful idea! I love pound cake but don't like how heavy it can be. Using healthy olive oil would be amazing! I love olive oil cakes. Your pan is also very pretty and made a stunning cake :)

    1. This is one of my favorite cake pans so it makes me happy when people compliment me on the cakes I bake in it! And this cake is definitely of the lighter variety, even though it's pound cake it's not very heavy or filling.

  3. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    Olive oil

    1. Hey Andi, thanks for visiting! It always makes my day to hear when someone likes reading my posts!


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