Friday, April 18, 2014

Olive Oil Cake with Vanilla Gelato and Balsamic Reduction

I'm not going to lie... I have been skeptical for a while on this one. I don't question many italian dishes. In fact, I don't really question anything Italian! My favorite foods, favorite wines, and my favorite men are all italian, which are pretty much the most important things in a girl's life.  Butttt, olive oil? In a cake? Meh.

Then I remembered a stop that Richard and I made while we were traveling through Modena, Italy. We were lucky enough to take a private tour of Villa San Donnino, where we learned about the process of making "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale." At the end of our tour, we enjoyed a tasting of several different vinegars aged 6, 12, and 25 years. Needless to say, they were absolutely to die for. For our last tasting, we were served the 12 year balsamic drizzled on top of vanilla gelato. (Now you see where I am going with this....)

I have always loved balsamic vinegar, but having it on top of vanilla gelato it is a whole different ball game. This quickly became one of my favorite desserts, so while I was totally knocking this whole olive oil cake thing, I realized the following:

1. Gelato + Balsamic vinegar= delicious.
2. Olive oil + Balsamic vinegar= delicious.

Therefore..... yep. It's all happening.

This cake is not too sweet and perfectly tender. The olive oil contains natural emulsifiers, which improves the cakes moisture and texture. It is absolutely delicious on it's own, or amazing topped with fresh fruit, ice cream, or whipped cream. It can really be the perfect base for just about any topping! My only tip is to be patient, when I say to mix for 10 minutes, mix for the full 10 minutes. You will end up with a deliciously dense and extremely moist cake!

Torta all' Olio di Oliva

8 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or you can use only all purpose flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

To serve: 
Vanilla gelato 
Balsamic reduction

Grease an 8 inch cake pan and preheat your oven to 300 degrees with a rack placed in the middle. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy,  about 10 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the olive oil in a steady stream and then continue mixing for another 10 minutes. 

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix to incorporate the ingredients. Then, add one third of the milk, followed by another third of the flour mixture. Mixing until just combined each time. Repeat this pattern until all ingredients are combined and then mix on medium speed for another 10 minutes. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is browned and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooing rack and let cool. 

To serve, dust the cake with confectioner's sugar and cut into slices. I topped the cake with vanilla gelato and a balsamic reduction (or a balsamic glaze which can be purchased at most grocery stores if you do not want to make it your self.) This cake is also amazing with fresh fruit and whipped cream!

(Read more about our trip to Modena HERE.)


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