Guys? Guys. So I made this cake.
This cake. A whole cake. A layer cake, of a Sunday evening, just because I wanted cake.
Because I wanted cake.
It wasn’t a birthday, it wasn’t a holiday, no company for dinner, it wasn’t because of some pre-lenten must-eat-all-the-sugar cake feeding frenzy. It was, simply, because I wanted cake.
(I have to say, as I write this someone nearby is outside in the rain barbecuing chicken and it smells heavenly. Now I want barbecued chicken. Anyway.)
I made this cake for me, and for Nick of course, but mostly for me. I never bake cakes just because. I bake them because people are coming over, because we’ve been invited somewhere, because it’s a holiday and I’m one of The Bakers in my family, et cetera, et cetera et cetera. Do I ever bake a cake just for me? Never. Or, rarely.
She’s a simple cake, though, with humble larder ingredients, just a few eggs, no butter, no mixer involved. Me, a whisk and two bowls. An hour of sitting on the sofa watching That Touch of Mink, et voila, cake.
The cake by itself is a beaut, but I made a ton of Satsuma mandarin marmalade around Christmas time after buying a boatload of them and some Clementines at the grocery store and finding we’d crapped out on eating them. We always devour the first two bags with reckless abandon, and then *poof* the orangy magic is gone and they sit in a bowl on the table composting. So I made marmalade, and we aren’t even marmalade people.
I adapted my recipe from here, cutting the oil back to just one cup, and lowering the sugar to 1 1/4 cups. The orange liqueur if you’re using it is plenty sweet, and even if you use all orange juice and not the hooch it’s still sweet enough. Cake doesn’t have to hurt your teeth to be tasty.
Also, no frosting on this one. I considered making a nice dark chocolate glaze to pour over the top layer, but meh. It sounded fussy and it was late and Sunday and rainy, and just like that the thought was gone. I used a bit of powdered sugar on the top just to make it pretty, but it would have been just as lovely without it.
While this cake is humble, simple, and let’s just be frank, not a looker, she makes up for all of it with a gentle crumb, moist (and I hate that word but it just fits), orangy and lovely and perfect, with a cup of tea and an old movie. And while this is the simplest of cakes, don’t keep it from company. It’s most definitely a crowd pleaser.
Olive Oil Cake with Orange Marmalade
Makes 1 9″ cake, serving, 12ish.
2 c. flour
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. EACH baking soda and baking powder
1 c. good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 c. milk
Zest of one large organic orange
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 c, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or more orange juice
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. orange marmalade
Powdered sugar, for dusting, if desired
Preheat oven to 350*F, line the bottom of a 9″ cake pan or springform pan with parchment (if your pan has sides less than 2″ tall, separate into two cake pans, this is a tall cake). Spray with olive oil spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour through the baking soda and powder together with a whisk. In another smaller bowl, combine the olive oil through the vanilla extract, whisking together until incorporated. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with that same whisk, mixing well so there are no lumps. Dump it into the pregreased cake pan (or pans), and bake at 350*F for an hour or a bit more, until a cake tester comes out clean (If you’re using the two cake pans, start checking after 30 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside on a rack to cool, about an hour.
Remove cake(s) from pan(s). If you used a single tall cake pan, bisect the cake across the equator and gently lift the cake top to a plate, with the top of the cake laying on the plate (trust me). Gently shmear the marmalade on the exposed surface of the cake and top with the upper layer. Use the plate you set the top on as a vehicle, this cake needs a bit of gentle handling and even pressure. If you used two cake pans you’re home free, level out the top of the lower cake layer with a knife, apply marmalade, and top with the second cake half (use the more handsome of the two as your upper cake layer). Dust with powdered sugar and serve in large wedges.