When the conversation turns to Yotam Ottolenghi, it's usually about vegetables. That's because Ottolenghi became a household name with the success of his cult-classic cookbook with Sami Tamimi, Plenty, revered for it's practically spiritual treatment of vegetables. Their follow up cookbook, Jerusalem, was met with equal praise and admiration. But the authors are neither vegetarian nor are they anti-desserts, so we took it upon ourselves to take the talking stick here and throw some cake up in this party.
This recipe comes from Ottolenghi and Tamimi's first cookbook, Ottolenghi, previously not available in the US. Until last fall, when Ten Speed Press published an American version of the cookbook and we couldn't be more thankful. Yet another collection of delicious recipes inspired by the ingredients most familiar to Ottolenghi and Tamimi, admittedly ingredients they use "over and over again," the "building blocks" to their recipes. One of which is olive oil.
The authors divulge, "we use olive oil everywhere, even in some cakes, where it adds moisture and a rich depth of flavor." For this recipe, the book suggests to wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate it for up to three days, to allow the complex flavors to develop over time. You can also opt to cut the maple icing out all together and just dust the top with powdered sugar, you know, if you want to spare some calories. But let's be real, calories and cake don't belong in the same sentence, not in this conversation.
Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing
Serves 6 to 8
Heaping ½ cup / 80 g golden
4 tbsp water
2¼ cups / 280 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup / 120 ml olive oil
¾ cup / 160 g superfine sugar
½ vanilla bean
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/8-inch / 1-cm dice
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 free-range egg whites
confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
7 tbsp / 100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
scant ½ cup / 100 g light muscovado sugar
scant 6 tbsp / 85 ml maple syrup
8 oz / 220 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1. Grease an 8-inch/20-cm springform cake pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Place the raisins and water in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat until all of the water has been absorbed. Leave to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside.
3. Put the oil and superfine sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a whisk if you don’t have a mixer). Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Beat the oil, sugar, and vanilla together, then gradually add the eggs. The mix should be smooth and thick at this stage. Mix in the diced apples, raisins, and lemon zest, then lightly fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
4. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl, either by hand or with a mixer, until they have a soft meringue consistency. Fold them into the batter in 2 additions, trying to maintain as much air as possible.
5. Pour the batter into the lined pan, level it with an icing spatula, and place in the oven. Bake for 1½ hours, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
6. Once the cake is completely cold, you can assemble it. Remove from the pan and use a large serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally. You should end up with 2 similar disks. If the cake is very domed, you might need to shave a bit off the top half to level it.
7. To make the icing, beat together the butter, muscovado sugar, and maple syrup until light and airy. You can do this by hand, or, preferably, in a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cream cheese and beat until the icing is totally smooth.
8. Using the icing spatula, spread a layer of icing 3/8 inch/1 cm thick over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place the top half on it. Spoon the rest of the icing on top and use the icing spatula to create a wavelike or any other pattern. Dust it with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.