Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Olive Oil Pound Cake with Almond Meal


While my wife and I share similar tastes for most savory dishes, desserts are another matter.  I have a weakness for butterfat.  The higher percentage of butterfat in a dish, the more likely I am to love it.  My wife, however, has an aversion to butterfat.  Shortbread cookies--no.  Croissants, proper ones--no.  Traditional pound cake--no. My mother makes a very good traditional pound cake rich with eggs and butter.  I love it, but Tjing doesn't care for the buttery richness. Desserts are a cultural divide that finds us on two distant shores.  This olive oil pound cake helped us bridge that distance.

Catherine, a local blogger who is very active in the Sacramento food scene and is the author of Munchie Musings, helped organize a dinner for Sacramento bloggers at the Greek Village Inn last month that was also a promotional event for Star Fine Foods who wanted to showcase their release of a 100% California olive oil.  Besides a nice chance to meet and interact with some other local bloggers while enjoying a delicious Greek meal (Tjing also can't stand the smell of lamb, so any time I have it is a rare treat), I came away with a bottle of olive oil (the regular extra virgin--not the California terroir).  As fond as I am of butter, I did think this made a delicious pound cake, one that you could almost feel righteous in eating, good fat vs bad fat and all that.  Most importantly, it tastes good.

1 1/4 cups (160 gr) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 gr) almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup olive oil
finely grated zest of one lemon
1 tsp almond essence

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.  You may line the bottom with parchment paper if you wish.  (I found it slightly easier to remove the cake when the pan had the parchment paper, but not that difficult to remove it without the parchment paper.  I use a pyrex glass pan, and I think I liked the crust a little more on the loaf without the parchment paper.)

Sift or stir together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl set over a pan with about an inch of hot water, beat the eggs and sugar together until the volume nearly triples.  The mixture should be the consistency of whipped cream just before it gets to the soft peak stage.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture by sprinkling the flour mix over the top little by little and stirring it in.  Add the olive oil, lemon zest, and almond essence, making sure to stir well to keep the oil from pooling in the bottom of the bowl.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for five to ten minutes, then remove and cool on a rack. 

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