The Olive and the Orange

I imagine I’d really like Tuscany.  When I lived in California, I fell in love with the areas that resemble that part of Italy.  Ojai, San Diego, Santa Barbara—I left a piece of my heart in each city.  It is there, amidst the bounty of citrus and olive oil, that I realized the true beauty of the relationship between the olive and the orange.  Not only do they both thrive in the same conditions, they have a historic culinary relationship.  They beg be paired in savory and sweet recipes. 

One taste of the house-marinated olives at La Villa in San Diego’s Little Italy, and my mind was blown.  Orange peel.  This simple, flavorful addition added a complex flavor that cut through the brine and awakened my palate.  I have since marinated my own olives at home.  Every batch includes the zest of an orange and is best when the still warm olive oil intensifies the orange flavor.  This is the flavor I love.  This is the flavor of Italy. 

Recently, I created an olive oil cake that feels like the perfect homage to the olive and orange partnership.  Topping it off with an amaretto glaze and toasted almonds just seemed like the right thing to do.  Who doesn’t like a little booze in their icing? Right?   The key to this cake is a really good olive oil.  I am fortunate to live in the same city as The Olive Wagon.  They are the real deal.  One sniff of their blood orange olive oil had me thinking—CAKE!  If you can’t find orange flavored olive oil, you can use a good quality orange emulsion and olive oil. 

 The olive and the orange—if you haven’t paired these two together, you are missing out.  It’s not quite as good as a trip to Italy, but it will do for now.  Arrivederci!

For Cake:

3 large eggs

1 c. Orange Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tbs. fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 tbs. orange zest

1 c. sugar

1 ½ c. whole milk

¼ c. amaretto liqueur

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

½ c. almond meal

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

⅛ tsp. salt

For Glaze:

1 ½ c. powdered sugar

3-4 tbs. amaretto liqueur

¾ c. toasted sliced almonds

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a Bundt pan with olive oil and a dusting of flour
  • Whisk together eggs and sugar until fully incorporated and light yellow
  • Add milk, olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, and amaretto and mix well
  • In a separate bowl, mix together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredient mixture, stirring just until incorporated
  • Pour into Bundt pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until a cake tester insert comes out clean
  • Cool cake for 1-2 hours and then turn out onto a serving plate
  • While cake is cooling, prepare glaze by combining powdered sugar and amaretto 
  • Toast sliced almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until slightly golden and fragrant
  • Once cake is completely cool drizzle the glaze over the top and sprinkle with toasted almonds

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