Walnut olive oil cake

Making and tasting those wonderful olive oil muffins recently had made me eager to explore other recipes that involve baking with olive oil.

And when I was reading David Lebovitz's post/recipe for those muffins, I noticed someone mention another olive oil cake in the comments - a walnut olive oil cake recipe from Bon Appetit.  Since I love simple, no-frosting-necessary cakes packed with nuts, this walnut cake - one familiarly infused with orange zest - sounded right up my alley and I wanted to try it.  So I made a small version of it last Friday, for a little coffee date night I was having with my husband at home that evening.
So here's the thing.  I whipped up a small 6-inch version of the cake and after I did so, I actually thought I wasn't going to post it here.  You see, the cake is straightforward enough to make but I have to tell you: the middle sinks - rather pronouncedly - after it comes out of the oven.  Reviews for the cake warned about this - many people mentioned the sinking issue.  I wasn't overly concerned going in but sure enough, the center of my cake sank rather more than I expected as it cooled.  
But I changed my mind about posting it after I tasted it.  Because crater-in-the-middle or not, the cake was delicious.  The soft center, though sunken, is practically a selling point in moistness.  However, I almost favor the edges - comparatively dryer but with a lovely crust to it that's particularly full of toasted walnut flavor.  So in the end, the sunken center is not a deal-breaker for me and given the taste, I'd gladly make it again.
Now about that sunken middle.  I made sure the cake was cooked though (i.e., the cake tester came out clean).  The center is not wet, just moist.  Some have suggested in the recipe's comment section to reduce the amount of baking powder in the cake (and using room temperature eggs, which I did) to fix the problem.  I might tinker with that next time around but maybe it would be just as well to fill the "hole" with a small mound of orange-scented whipped cream if you're looking for a presentation "fix"? 

To relax and spend some quiet time together, my husband and I have been having some coffee date nights at home.  Last Friday, we were digging into this walnut cake (as well as some leftover lemon bars and lemon-almond biscotti) with our cups of joe. I would say these date nights - even just for coffee and dessert - are the next best thing to going out together but I often think that staying in at home is far better.
I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day weekend!  The sun finally came out late Sunday morning after a dark and wet week.  I enjoyed my breakfast in bed and I feel thoroughly relaxed because I really got to simply sit back and relax all day.  It was just what I needed after a fairly busy week.  Things are a bit hectic right now with a number of school events and activities happening during these last couple of months before school wraps up for my son for the year.  That said, I'm restless with too much relaxation and I plan to soak up everyday as much as possible.  Time flies and kids grow up so fast!

Have a great week!

Recipe:

Walnut Olive Oil Cake
From Bon Appetit, October 2007 via epicurious.com

- Makes one 9-inch round cake (you can divide the recipe in half like I did and bake cake in a 6"x3" cake pan; bake time in my experience was approximately 35 minutes but check for doneness using a cake tester) - 

* A note or word of warning: As you'll find in the comments section of the recipe review, many people mention that the baked cake sinks in the center.  That was the case in my experience.  Some have offered the suggestion of reducing the amount of baking powder to prevent sinking.  I have not tried this so I can't vouch for how effective that would be.  That said, the cake's moist texture and its fragrant nutty flavor makes it a winner. 

1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted, chopped, and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar (I dialed it down a bit and used a scant cup and a half)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup olive oil
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan (a regular cake pan should also work) with nonstick olive oil spray or regular cooking spray.  Place a round of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and spray the paper.

Grind walnuts in a food processor until fine but not powdery (and don't go too far that it turns into a paste).  Combine walnuts, flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add the sugar, beating until mixture is light, thick, and pale yellow, about 4 minutes.  Gradually add the walnut-flour mixture, then blend in the orange juice, orange zest, and olive oil until just incorporated.  Transfer batter to the prepared pan, set it on top of a baking sheet, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Remove cake from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  

Remove cake from the pan and carefully set it on top of a platter.  Dust the top with powdered sugar before serving.  

   

42 comments:

  1. I love olive oil cakes so much! This one looks wonderfully dense and I love the orange and walnuts :)

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    1. I love cakes like this that have nuts but also some flour to anchor it so it's not too "wet". Hope all is well!

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  2. This looks delicious! I love olive oil in cakes and muffins, and also nuts. This combo sounds superb. Will have to try once my daughter starts eating sugar.

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    1. I love cakes with nuts and I liked that this was for walnuts, which I usually think of for just cookies and brownies. The crust had such a great pronounced toasted walnut flavor. Hope you and your daughter are doing well.

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  3. Wow! this food is good for health. I love it. Thank your recipe1 I will try... Healthoop

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  4. Now this cake looks super moist and delicious. I would love a piece for breakfast... what is wrong with that I say with olive oil, nuts and oranges , it is almost diet food...lol

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    1. It's the kind of cake people I know who don't love dessert enjoy very much. : ) My husband would be totally down with the breakfast idea. He exercises the cake for breakfast option often. ; )

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  5. I think the sunken middle looks just fine! And you could always fill it with whipped cream :) But seriously, that bite of cake looks so moist and perfect!

    Sues

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    1. My husband almost preferred that extra moist center and I didn't mind the sunken middle after tasting it.

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  6. I've had cakes that sink in the middle too. Once I remade the cake in a bundt type pan and that truly cured the problem, if you think it is a problem. If the cake was good and the middle was baked through - then I agree it is fine the way it is. Thanks for posting as I have been very interested in olive oil cakes too. Love the walnuts and the texture looks perfect. I bet you are busy this time of year! Enjoy these wonderful adventures - it does go by so fast :)

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    1. Yes, baking it in a bundt was an option someone offered! That would definitely help but I'd have to be very sure to grease the pan well. I think they would work very nicely in my mini bundt pan!
      Glad you find it interesting...I'm intrigued by the olive oil recipes now!

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  7. I too prefer no-frosting bakes and have no problem at all with the sunken center at all. The texture is perfect.

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    1. Love calling these 'everyday' cakes and feeling like we can have it everyday. ; P

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  8. First, this cake sounds delicious - sunken middle or not! But you reallly have me thinking about orange scented whipped cream now!! haha I wish I had a piece to go with my tea later this afternoon!! I'm so glad you had a chance to relax on Mother's Day!!

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    1. haha - thanks, Ashley. I totally don't mind the middle after tasting it! I love the texture and such great flavor with the orange in the background. Hope all is well!

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  9. I'm glad you had a great Mother's day weekend! This cake is SO fun! And it looks perfect.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ashley. I'm too spoiled but I won't complain. ; )

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  10. Hi Monica, oh breakfast in bed!!! how special. This cakes sounds like a winner.

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    1. It is such a treat, Cheri! Started a few years ago and I thought, "I want that every year!" : )

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  11. Lovely texture, it looks absolutely delicious. I don't think I ever baked with olive oil, can't remember it, but you convinced me to try it. And I don't mind much the sinking of the middle, main thing is that the cake tastes good.

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    1. It's really tasty and very delicious - I don't mind the center when it's just for us to enjoy at home and the center is certainly cooked through.

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  12. This cake looks absoluelty delicious and guilt-free, Monica. Love the how moist and beaytiful it has turned out. I bet it tasted divine. YUM!

    Anu
    www.mygingergarlickitchen.com

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    1. It was very tasty, alongside a cup of coffee! : )

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  13. I love baking with olive oil and this cake looks moist and super delicious!

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    1. I want to bake with olive oil a lot more now. : )

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  14. Here's what i think about sinking cakes: they're generally outstanding, at least from my experience. They sink because they're beautiful on the inside, and some of the hands-down best cakes i've had have a massive crater form in the center. It looks gorgeous, and truly perfect as/is.

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    1. It really tasted awesome so I have no worries about the sunken center. : ) I love having a chance to make a cake with walnuts (as opposed to the usual almonds, hazelnuts and even pistachios - not that those aren't terrific...). I really loved the moist center as well as the dryer but almost more flavorful toasted walnut edges.

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  15. I do love the moist crumb of an olive oil cake! Your whipped cream in the center solution is perfect! We do get caught up sometimes in how baked goods look, but this cake passed your much more important taste test. Is your son in 5th grade this year? End of elementary school is a big growing up time (for moms as much as for kids). So exciting. :)

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    1. My husband enjoys a dollop of whipped cream with all these types of everyday no-frosting cakes but I'm more than satisfied without it. The taste of this one definitely won us over. And yes - he is finishing up with 5th grade! How crazy is that!? Off to middle school in Sept. and we've had some activities to gear up for all that change. Very exciting for sure...also have my fingers crossed!

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  16. This sounds delicious, I love olive oil in a cake, it's so nice. I can imagine eating this under a tree in the summer.

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    1. Now that's a lovely image, Caroline. Thank you.

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  17. We LOVE olive oil cakes. And this is no exception. With nuttiness from the walnut, a must try. Look at how fluffy the cake is!! YUM :)

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    1. I know why people love olive oil cakes, now. Thanks, Kiran.

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  18. Yum! I need this olive oil cake in my life asap! Looks delicious!

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  19. Woow..it looks so awesome and seems very tasty

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  20. I love olive oil cakes so so so much. This one sounds gorgeous and so tasty, Monica! I will have to try your recipe soon and will keep you posted ;-)

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    1. It's really tasty if you love a nutty, fragrant cake. As long as you don't mind a sunken middle, you're good to go. Enjoy the weekend.

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  21. Sunken middle or not, I think it looks absolutely delicious! I love that you used olive oil and the walnuts and orange sound amazing in here! So simple and perfect!

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    1. I really really liked this very simple cake. The walnut flavor is so nice along the crust, especially. Hope all is well and thanks for making time to come by!

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