A thunderstorm last night sent the Family-Across-the-Street-that-Conducts-All-Its-Business-on-Its-Front-Stoop scuttling indoors. And I woke up this morning with a need—no, scratch that—a COMPULSION to bake. Cause and effect? Probably. No, I’m not implying that the family retiring early from their stoop was the reason behind this unseasonal impulse, but rather, my deep-rooted association of rain with baking. I wonder if this instinct makes biological sense?
But alas, the day promised to be hot. The oven whined when I turned it on. The faucet seized up. Dishes toppled from the rack, spices threatened to tip. ‘It’s not a rainy day, you fool,’ the spirit of the kitchen cried out to me. But I insisted that it was.
And with that, I started started pulling out ingredients, already knowing what I was going to bake. The spelt flour sat high up in the cupboard, the dark chocolate nibs atop the bookshelf. The rosemary I grabbed from the fridge, a little wilted but still presentable. Finally, the star of the show sat in its usual spot near the stove, a big bottle of olive oil we use for everyday cooking. You see, I was going to bake an olive oil cake. Not just any olive oil cake, but the one created by Kim Boyce of Good to the Grain fame.
This is a cake I’ve wanted to bake for ages. With so many others setting the precedent and my inherent trust in Kim’s recipes (you could seduce someone with her whole wheat chocolate chip cookies), it promised to be delicious.
And sure enough, the olive oil worked its mysterious magic, offset by the subtle flavor of the rosemary and dark chocolate. Overall, it’s a rustic, everyday cake, but with an aromatic twist, a restrained sweetness that makes it suitable for breakfast. And a mid-morning snack. And dessert too.
OLIVE OIL CAKE
From Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
Makes 1 9-inch round cake
Olive oil for the pan
3/4 cup spelt flour
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1-1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cacao), roughly chopped
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a 9-1/2-inch tart pan with olive oil.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk, and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Stir in the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly.
Bake about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed and golden brown and the edges are darker, or until a toothpick through the center comes out clean.