This Apple Olive Oil Cake, of all the rustic cakes I swoon over, is my very most favorite. It can be called rustic merely because it is not adorned in buttercream, an accessory that would only complicate its simplicity. Fragrant olive oil in the batter marries beautifully with orange zest, cracked cardamom seed, and pure vanilla. I am delighted the lack of cinnamon normally found in apple desserts. Am I the only one who tires of overwhelming the pure taste of apple with cinnamon?
Tom Murray, my friend and orchardist who specializes in apples at his SLO Farm (seasonal, local, organic), suggested that I try his Liberty variety. He said that its sharp flavor would balance the sweet cake, and he was right. Other varieties that are tart and hold up to baking are Pink Lady, Jonathan, Mutsu, and good old Granny Smith. Any of these will be perfect in this apple cake.
Tom sells his apples at the Lane County Farmers Market in Eugene, Oregon. Please look for him there, and try all of his lovely apple varieties.
This recipe originated with Rachel Coyle, published by Food & Wine Magazine. I've made it so many times that I've added some of my own riffs. I've found that the batter can easily old 50% more apples than in the original recipe. So in goes 1½ pounds, weighed before peeling and coring, for more appley goodness.
Cakes made with olive oil have become popular for good reason. The texture becomes more like a sponge cake, very moist and tender, but with structure. If you've yet to try the taste phenomenon of the olive oil/sugar combo, you are in for a real treat. A fruity olive oil is great for this, of course. Stonehouse Olive Oil's house blend, my house olive oil, works wonderfully in this recipe. I buy it in 9-liter quantities a few times a year.
Rachel Coyle's original recipe says to use a 14-cup Bundt-style pan, and I've learned there are more great pan options for the apple olive-oil cake. A 9" springform pan creates a gorgeously tall round cake; a tube pan makes an even taller cake with a hole in the center that I really like; and I often divvy up the batter between three 6" round cake pans that serve six people each. This is perfect for our smaller household, as the cakes freeze perfectly. So handy! Please note that as of this publication date, Sur La Table is offering a 20% off sale on each of these pans, and on all of their bakeware! Just in time for holiday baking. Sur La Table only sells high-quality products that I always trust.
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How to release a cake from its pan begins a series of kitchen wisdom every home cook should know. These quick tips will make your kitchen efforts more fun, easy, and successful.
Have you ever baked a cake only to have the top of it stick to the bottom of the pan in chunks, taking your visions of a perfect cake with it? Me too. Here's how to get over that.
First, be sure to follow the recipe directions for prepping the pan. If it asks you to butter/grease or flour the pan, so do generously.
Be sure the cake has sufficiently cooled after coming out of the oven before attempting to release it from its pan. The pan should be comfortable warm to the touch, but not hot. This allows the sugars and proteins in the batter to set and gives time for steam to loosen the cake. If the pan is too hot, the chances of a clean release are small.
Use a knife, blade angled and pressed against the cake pan. Circle the blade all the way around the edge to begin loosening the cake.
Next, gently start to tap the pan, and gently bounce it up and down like you are waking a beloved from a deep sleep. You'll know the cake is ready to release when you feel it lightly bouncing against the pan. If the cake doesn't easily budge, leave it to cool just another minute or so and try again. Be gentle! If you are a bit rough, your cake can rip and leave it's beautiful flat top layer stuck.
If you've forgotten about your cake and left it to completely cool it may stick as well. First, test the above steps. If at first tap it doesn't budge, place it back in a warm oven for just a few minutes. This will allow the pan and the edges of the cake to warm up a bit, allowing the sugars release.
Of course, if your cake does come out of the pan missing parts, use a metal spatula to remove the stuck on parts and patch it back together. These things happen, and are nothing a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of glaze, or a fluffy frosting can't minimize!
Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake + Blueberry Compote
Wilton's Cake Baking and Serving Guide offers so much information! The capacity of batter and cooking times and temperatures for every size of pan; how many servings to expect, and a lot more.
Bake through the comprehensive classic recipes in Flo Braker's out-of-print book The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, first released in 1997 and updated in 2003, and you'll be a cake baking pro in no time.