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olive oil & red grape cake

OliveOil&RedGrapeCake-5

If I were to name my sweet weakness, cake wouldn’t be it. Once every blue moon though comes a cake with that certain something that causes my knees to wobble and my will to crumble. Enter this cake.

Generally cakes tend to be a bit sweet for me, sugar muscling out every other taste sensation. This cake is sweet enough to be called a cake, but doesn’t overpower the palate with sugar. My own sweet weakness is for fruit desserts and most cakes are rather wussy in the fruit department. This cake is deliciously fragrant with citrus, both lemon and orange, and has purply bursts of fresh grape. Many cakes are made of more than a dozen ingredients. This has 8 very simple ones. There’s only 1 cup of flour in this 9-inch cake. The lightness and golden color come from eggs. The exquisite richness, from a fruity olive oil (to name another weakness.) This is a fine-textured, delicately scented, out-of-the-ordinary cake quite perfect for finishing a meal.  And if sweet tea-time be your weakness, could I suggest…

Citrusy Olive Oil & Red Grape Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (155 g) sugar, with more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for brushing*
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup (125 g, 5 ounces) cake flour sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (250 g) seedless red grapes

You’ll need a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. 

* I recommend a light or sweet & fruity sort – avoid the pungent peppery kind you might love dipping your bread in.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Rub the springform pan with a little olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.

Grate the zest from the lemon and orange, and then juice the lemon. (One means of getting more juice from the lemon is to roll it back & forth on the counter first, applying medium pressure with the palm of your hand. Or put the lemon in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to help release the juices. Slice in half and juice.)

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and ribbony. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and the zest of both the lemon and the orange. Add the flour, and stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites with the salt ’til stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the lemony batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Plunk in half of the grapes, fairly evenly throughout the batter. (These will sink to the bottom.)

Total bake time is 40 to 45 minutes – HOWEVER – after 20 minutes, quickly open the oven and scatter the remaining grapes evenly across the top of the cake. Then continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes. (In my oven another 20 is enough.) When a toothpick (or cake tester) inserted comes out clean, remove the cake to a wire cooling rack.

Brush the top generously with olive oil and sprinkle a bit more sugar over the top. (You might have a pump-style dispenser that you put olive oil in. We love ours for controlling the amount of olive oil we add before cooking, or sprayed onto cooked vegetables, or onto salad greens when we’re wanting just a little along with a squirt of lemon. It works great for spraying cakes too!)

When the cake is cool, un-mold and serve. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar if desired.

Our family has a tradition of red eggs at Easter ~ I’ll share about that in an upcoming post ~ this cake seems to echo the theme of red eggs, so it’s destined for our table that night.

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For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here.

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This recipe is only slightly modified from Laura Calder’s in French Taste

54 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gorgeous! I love anything with lemon and olive oil! Looks amazing Spree!

    March 29, 2012
    • Thanks Shira! Lemon and olive oil is one of those flavor combinations irresistible to me! And this really is one scrumptious moist and lemony little cake! :)

      March 29, 2012
  2. You are so creative. This looks exquisite!

    March 29, 2012
  3. Nice recipes and lovely photos!

    March 29, 2012
  4. By the way, I’m with Shira on that point! It completely undoes the cake “myeh’s” that I must have inherited from a certain someone. :)

    March 29, 2012
    • Hmmm. Your father perhaps? ;)

      March 29, 2012
  5. Kammie #

    I’m the same way- most cakes and any American baked goods usually are too sweet for me. So this is awesome. Too bad I don’t have the sweet kind of olive oil :( any subs?

    March 29, 2012
    • Kammie I’m so glad you asked the question! It doesn’t need to be “sweet”. Our market stocks ALL kinds of olive oil, so I picked this one up for baking, and keep it on hand in the fridge to increase its “shelf” life. (I’ve used it in cookies too.) But if you don’t have sweet & fruity as an option, simply do a “light” olive oil. Light is the designation given to a O.O. that has a far milder taste, and that would be perfectly suitable for this cake. Thanks for visiting and thanks for asking! spree

      March 29, 2012
      • Kammie #

        Oh awesome! Thank you! And if I was to purchase the sweet & fruity type of olive oil, if I was to use it for some other type of baking, like you said for example cookies, would I just sub it for canola oil or any other type of oil, or are there any other subs I could make with it?

        haha, sorry I’m so new to this. But i wanna learn! :) Thank you for your response!

        March 29, 2012
        • So welcome Kammie! If you buy a sweet & fruity olive oil, you can use it in place of any other oil in a baking recipe. Or if you were to make a fruit salad that you made a vinaigrette for (say a champagne vinaigrette) if the recipe called for safflower or canola oil, you could absolutely substitute the sweet & fruity olive oil. I know this may sound weird, but you’ll want to smell AND taste it…not very often but rarely a bottle of olive that is labeled as sweet and fruity isn’t QUITE as neutral tasting as you might want in a particular recipe. I’m saying that out of an abundance of caution. It’s highly unlikely, but never hurts to taste first.
          Though I really love a lusty olive oil, full of peppery flavor and heady aroma, it’s not right for everything, so keeping a bottle on hand that’s milder is a good idea. Does that help? Hope so! :) (and don’t worry about asking questions. it’s totally good with me.)

          March 29, 2012
          • Kammie #

            Ahh ,thank you! That totally helped a lot! :)

            March 29, 2012
  6. I love Laura Calder.. I saw Olive Oil cake at the new Mercato near home and thought I should make one and improve on what I saw. And here you are!! I’m going to make this for my family this weekend, they love cake but not too sweet and this will be another perfect use for my new bottle of olive oil!! Printing now!! xoxoxo Smidge ps if I post with a reference to your blog would you mind??

    March 29, 2012
    • You dear heart, would I mind? Of course not! I’ve never tried a thing of Laura C’s that wasn’t wonderful, Smidge. You? Can’t wait to see your improvement of a cake-eaten but requiring a Smidge of help. ;) You are, in my eyes, Queen of Cake, and I do mean that in the very BEST sense!

      March 29, 2012
      • Just finished making it.. I think it’s a very unique cake and can’t wait to taste it. I followed you pretty close but added a few new flavors just to change it up. I will be sending you some link-love when I post:) I am not the Queen of Cakes.. by the looks of things here! There is no improvement needed at all!! I could use a few photography tips:) xoxo Smidge

        March 31, 2012
        • Well….I was actually referring to the olive oil cake that you saw at the Mercato that you wanted to improve upon. Having next to nothing to do with me, but rather the recipe that came from Laura Calder, this cake is awfully wonderful and hard to improve upon. But IF there’s a way, Smidge Queen of Cakes is going to find it! Cannot WAIT to see what you’ve done! ;) xoxo!

          March 31, 2012
  7. Such a beautiful recipe and very similar to one my mum gav eme a couple of weeks ago in London which I hope to make this weekend. Hers uses raisins instead of grapes but I love the idea of the fresh grapes. And as you mentioned above, it does have rather an Easter feel to it!

    March 29, 2012
    • Raisins would be good too. Did you try it that way Tanya? There was something about this burst of juiciness from the fresh grapes that was pretty delectable!

      March 29, 2012
  8. This seems like it would be a light and refreshing cake – thanks for sharing!

    March 29, 2012
  9. MakeupByKimB #

    Looks yummy!

    March 29, 2012
  10. This looks absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to make this. Thanks for the recipe.

    March 29, 2012
    • To my mind Heidi, it’s absolutely that! Hope you enjoy! (And thanks very much for leaving words!) :) spree

      March 29, 2012
  11. Great recipe, I cook a similar Provencal Cherry Cake from Patricia Wells’ “The Provencal Cook”. Lovely pics.

    March 29, 2012
    • Cherries would be outstanding Roger! I’ll have to try that!

      March 29, 2012
      • Wondering Roger – do you leave the cherry stones in (as in clafouti) or remove? Same method as here of dropping half in at the beginning and other half toward the end? I can picture them, complete with stems poking up through the top, but don’t know if that’s how you serve it. Would love to know! Thanks!

        March 29, 2012
  12. Mine would be cheesecake! But cake, comes a close 2nd or 3rd. However, I tend to make my cakes with as little sugar as possible. This is a truly wonderful cake, Spree. I love grapes – shall have to try baking with them. I have a great idea for Wimbledon cake coming in the following months. It’s similar to this.

    March 29, 2012
    • I’ll be waiting on the Wimbledom cake Nick!! Fun! (And as I’ve told you before, I am crazy nuts for good cheesecake too – not too fluffy, not too sweet!)

      March 29, 2012
  13. Wow, Spree! This is a completely new cake for me and I’m very interested in baking one. The idea of eating cake with little bursts of grape in every bite is just too good to pass up. I look forward to learning about your red egg tradition for Easter and I can see how this cake and those eggs would “pair up” for the holiday. Good thinking!

    March 29, 2012
    • Thanks John! Are you actually thinking of B a k i n g ? :) I know. It’s kind of magic, that combination of olive oil and grapes, and lemon. Yup, sounding like an Italian’s sweet dream! Would love to know if you try it!

      March 29, 2012
  14. I’m the same way, lacking in the sweet tooth department. Katherine made a cake last weekend that had olive oil and also wasn’t too sweet. This also looks like a winner to me and is very nice looking on the plate too.

    March 29, 2012
    • I’ve now seen your cake Greg, and it looks fantastic!

      April 1, 2012
  15. Hi!
    Delicious recipe and beautiful photographs, the perfect post :)

    March 30, 2012
    • Very sweet of you! Thanks so much!

      March 30, 2012
  16. Your cake looks beautiful. I had one very similar when I was in Italy but the grapes were not seedless. The Italian couple sharing the table with us ate the cake seeds in all. Your recipe I will enjoy. Thanks.

    March 30, 2012
    • The one way I can think to improve upon this recipe would be to serve it beneath a grape arbor in the Italian countryside. Thanks for sharing your memory !

      March 30, 2012
  17. Count me in for a portion! I don’t have a very sweet tooth either so don’t oftne have desert. But I know I’d have a slice or two, or maybe three!

    March 30, 2012
    • It IS that kind of cake Claire. (Only 4 pieces left, hurry!)

      March 30, 2012
  18. I keep seeing olive oil cakes and always tell myself I must try one
    I think this is the one to change want into action
    I love all your pictures, but the ones you take for ingredients are just breath taking Spree

    March 30, 2012
    • You’re very kind, Sawsan, thank you! I’ve seen a lot of them too, have tried a couple. Hands down, this is my favorite. (Do let me know what you think if you decide to try it.) :)

      March 30, 2012
  19. What an unusual sounding cake! It is intriguing and begs to be tried.

    Ronnie

    March 30, 2012
    • Hi Ronnie! Oh don’t wait for your arm to be twisted! I can’t imagine you not (really, really) liking this cake! :)

      March 30, 2012
  20. I’m planning my Easter dessert offerings now, and this cake is just the sort of treat I have in mind … light, tasty and singing Springtime.

    March 30, 2012
    • Singing Springtime! I wish I’d said that! :) of course I’m biased, but I think it’s pretty perfect for Easter. :b

      March 31, 2012
  21. This is beautiful! I am amazed with how fresh the grapes look in the end.

    March 30, 2012
    • That really surprised me too! :) nothing at all like raisins!

      March 31, 2012
  22. deb #

    Simply beautiful! The photographs and recipe have my mouth watering, especially after 40 days of no sweets.

    April 2, 2012
    • 40 days can be SUCH a long time! xo

      April 3, 2012
  23. This really looks delicious. I’m new to your blog, and on the strength of this recipe took some time to browse through some of your other entries. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers. Your posts are interesting and your food sounds uncommonly good. I’ll be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    April 2, 2012
  24. Love the use of grapes! Now there is an under-used fruit. Love the use of it in your recipe!

    April 8, 2012
  25. TP #

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I made it with grapeseed oil instead. It makes a delicious, light cake. YUM!

    July 20, 2012
    • Thank YOU for letting me about the way you adapted the recipe! We really love this cake and I think your adaptation is a good one!

      July 21, 2012

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  1. Orange Blossom Tea-Cake for Breakfast | just a smidgen
  2. Out of My Cake Comfort Zone: Olive Oil and Red Grape Cake « life through the kitchen window

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