AndyTalk: The Surprising Lesson in Olive Oil Cake

Categories: Chow Bella

Olive Oil Cake - Whole.jpg
Andy Broder
Olive Oil Cake

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I want to share a recipe that didn't work. Actually, part of the recipe worked, and part didn't. I've been nibbling at the good part for a couple of days, but I think that the lesson associated with the unsuccessful part is more valuable than the simple recipe for my Olive Oil Cake.

Cakes made with olive oil have been around for a long time. They show up at trendy bakeries and restaurants, but have never really garnered the momentum to be a real trend on their own. Done right, olive oil cake is as tasty as salted caramel.

Because I wanted to share a recipe that's easy enough for a beginner I decided to adapt a recipe I've been making since I was in high school. Until this week every upsidedown cake I've made since my school days has come out beautifully.

Olive Oil Cake - Toasted with Jam.jpg
Andy Broder
Olive Oil Cake - Toasted with Jam
The cake part of my olive oil upsidedown dessert was great. In fact, it's a serviceable recipe for a basic coffee cake - and that's the recipe I'm sharing. It's dense, moist, and gently sweet. On the other hand, the brown sugar upsidedown part of the original recipe was a burned to a carbon-black mess.

Olive Oil Cake - Burned.jpg
Andy Broder
Burned Upsidedown Part of the Olive Oil Cake
What I didn't take into account is the missing water. Butter is mostly fat, but it's also somewhere between 15 and 19 percent water.

In the cake 1/2 cup of olive oil has more fat than 1/2 cup of butter, so the end result is a very moist cake. Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar it was a well-received hors d'oeuvre. Sliced, toasted, and slathered with jam it made today's breakfast a good way to start the day.

olive oil cake 2 views.jpg
Andy Broder
Olive Oil Cake - With & Without Balsamic Vinegar
But, the water-free olive oil did not work in the bottom of the pan. Butter and sugar will turn into caramel. But when I used olive oil I burned the fruit and sugar to a crisp. With butter there's an evaporative process. When water evaporates it cools the bottom of the pan just enough to keep the fruit from turning black. With olive oil I basically fried the fruit to death.

Sometimes you can substitute olive oil for butter; sometimes you can't.

Next time, I'll use olive oil in the cake, but if I want an upside down cake you can bet that there will be butter on the bottom of the pan. The water hidden in the butter was the secret ingredient that I hadn't taken into account.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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