Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Olive Oil Citrus Bundt Cake

Although I enjoy truly decadent desserts from time to time, on a more regular basis I find that I prefer lighter sweets that I can enjoy any time of day, such as scones, muffins, or coffee cakes. They are often prepared for daytime enjoyment, but can easily fill the void when dessert time rolls around. In particular, I love a baked good that can stand on its own, but is also the perfect compliment to a cup of tea (because is there anything better in life than a cup of tea and a baked good?).

This Bundt cake recipe is slightly adapted from Baked Explorations, the second cookbook from the owners of Baked in Brooklyn, New York. It's a simple olive oil cake (already lightened up by its lack of butter) spruced up with a touch of citrus zest (originally called for orange, but I used lemon and thought it was fantastic), and made further ethereal by folding in whipped egg whites as the final step (much like a classic chiffon cake).

I can honestly say that this olive oil Bundt is now officially on my radar as one of my favorite "coffee/tea cake" recipes. I could easily put away a slice or two every morning or afternoon without much of a challenge. This is probably a good reason why I SHOULDN'T make it regularly, even if it's made with olive oil and not butter. The aroma alone while baking this cake is worth the effort! I also think swapping out the citrus zest for some finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme would take this cake into another totally delicious direction. I will definitely experiment more with those flavors next time!

I used my lovely violet Bundt pan and think it's just one of the prettiest pans I've ever seen (the pan isn't violet in color, but rather depicts violets growing out of the ground). It can be a pain in the butt though, with bits of cake getting stuck in the ornate details of the pan when I invert the cake, but I've found that melting a little butter and brushing it all over the interior of the pan (into all the nooks and crannies), and then dusting with flour has yielded the best results for an easy cake release. I definitely recommend that to using a pan spray for a more detailed Bundt pan such as mine.

Olive Oil Citrus Bundt Cake
Makes 1 (10-inch) Bundt
(Adapted from Baked Explorations)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges or lemons
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray; alternatively, butter it well, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour (I recommend the latter for more intricate Bundt pan designs).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and light; slowly pour in the sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add the yogurt and olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the citrus zest and vanilla, and mix until just incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, beating after each addition until just combined (this will take about 10 seconds). Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 5 seconds.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Scoop 1 cup of the egg whites into the batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in. After about 30 seconds of folding, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until they are almost completely combined. Do not rush the folding process.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and invert onto the wire rack to finish cooling.

Just before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners' sugar. The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered tightly, for up to 3 days.

*Note* Try replacing the citrus zest with some finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme for a different twist on this light and refreshing olive oil cake.


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