Putting a Cap on the Oil Spill, or, How I Saved the Cake

Alex and I were invited to a friend’s BBQ birthday bash this evening. I offered to bring a side, and here’s what we brought:

Nice, right? Well, just so you know I’m definitely not perfect (and maybe the title of this post gave it away), it took a bit of creative problem-solving to get it that way. Here’s how it all went down:

The recipe for this Lemon Olive Oil Cake is from the Boston Globe which I stumbled across while I was doing some research for work, and here it is with my adaptations:

– Separate 7 room temperature eggs. (Make sure your eggs are fresh! Read more here).
– Butter and flour a 9″ or 9.5″ springform pan. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
– Mix together the dry ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, zest from one lemon.
– Begin to beat the yolks with a whisk, adding 1.5 cups of sugar slowly. Next, while still beating, slowly add 1 cup good quality olive oil. *Note: I didn’t have a lemon at the time, but I did have lemon olive oil. But only half a cup. So I actually used 1/2 cup lemon olive oil and 1/2 cup canola oil, with no additional lemon zest.*
– Then stir in the dry ingredients. (Yes, you can do this in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but you’re probably going to want to use the mixer for this next part coming up).
– In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. (I, being stand- and hand- electric mixer-less, decided to do it by hand. After all, surely that’s what we did before electricity, right? I certainly got quite the forearm workout, but finally they looked fluffy).

– Pour about 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture and stir to combine. Then fold the other 3/4 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture until it is combined but still fluffy.
– Finally, pour your fluffy batter into the prepared springform pan, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, or until the center/top of the cake springs back when poked, and the middle doesn’t seem jiggly when you shake the pan. <– this is important, unless you a) like gooey pudding cake or b) want to mess up on purpose to re-create the dessert I describe here.
– Let the cake cool before removing the springform ring and sprinkling with powdered sugar.

As you can probably guess, this is where I got too excited. Sure, the top sprang back when I poked it, but the middle was definitely still jiggly. I took it out anyway, and it looked beautiful! Like this:

But after it had cooled, I discovered that the middle had sunk down as though an asteroid had landed and looked like this:

(Why, yes, someone did cut themself a slice to sample!) Here’s another view of just how much the middle sank:

Yikes! Personally, I don’t really like pudding cakes. Pudding anything has never really appealed to me–bread puddings, rice puddings, Jell-o pudding cups…definitely not my thing. Unfortunately, the middle of this cake wasn’t quite pudding consistency; it was like I could still feel the grainy texture of the sugar, so I knew it wasn’t quite right.

But, in a stroke of creative genius, I decided to salvage the cake (because it tasted incredibly good!) by scooping out the middle and filling it with berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries).

By the way, after I cut up the strawberries, I tossed them all together gently in a spoonful of honey and about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Definitely did the trick! The cake was a big hit. If you’ve never had an olive oil cake before, you might be surprised at how sweet it is. Certainly it’s not as sweet as, say, a pre-packaged cake mix or one you might pick up at the store drenched in icing. It was closer to a sweet souffle or a dense angel food cake. The olive oil flavor was extremely subtle, and the slight lemon flavor paired beautifully with the fresh berries.

Oh, and here's the birthday boy, Brad, tending to his delicious chicken kebabs!

So I encourage you to give this recipe a try (either the original version, or my improvised “accident” cake), and let me know how it turns out! Have you ever managed to save a dish you thought was ruined? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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4 thoughts on “Putting a Cap on the Oil Spill, or, How I Saved the Cake

  1. brad says:

    Holy cow! The cake was so tasty I would have never known that wasn’t how it was supposed to turn out. The berries were an excellent touch. Thanks again for bringing it!

  2. […] Well guess what. Alex and I received an early wedding gift this weekend. If you remember this or this post, you will likely be able to guess what it is… It was, naturally, the very first thing I […]

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