Genius Recipes

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

By • February 12, 2014 • 87 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The effortlessly sexy dessert you can stir together from your pantry (+ the olive oil cake that will ruin you for all others). 

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Does anyone really want a fancy, frilled sweet on Valentine's Day? No, we want cake. Cheery, uncomplicated cake.

We want a cake that doesn't need to grab for attention with flashy swoops and barely edible embellishments (I'm looking at you, dragées) -- one that disarms and lures us in without trying terribly hard, then invites us to take it down in greedy, widening forkfuls.

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Whatever you're in the market for this Valentine's Day, this particular cake should cover it: Last minute romance you can bust out with what's in your pantry? To be the coworker who brings treats that will get demolished, unlike that weird chocolate that's been hanging out since Christmas? Or just distraction -- to stir together a few things, and make your house thrum with warmth and happy, citrusy smells. 

The answer in all of these cases, if you haven't guessed, is Maialino's Olive Oil Cake. 

More: Another place olive oil shines? Amanda's press-in tart crust.

  

You're having one of two reactions right now. 1: You're someone who's never known an olive oil cake, and you're going to need to trust us. This cake bears no resemblance to salad dressing

Olive oil cake at its best has a crackling crust and an aromatic oil-rich middle, which, if it held any more moisture, would be pudding. Pulling this off should be easy -- there aren't even egg whites to whip and fold, or butter to cream -- but it isn't always. They can be surprisingly temperamental -- dry or uneven or sodden with egg. Which brings us to Group 2:

You know olive oil cake well, and you've been on the hunt for the perfect version to make at home. This is it.

  

To develop their perfect version, Maialino's pastry chef Rachel Binder worked with Gerri Sarnataro, a pastry instructor at ICE -- they were looking for a cake you could find in Italy, but one that still felt original. "We didn't want it to scream olive oil," Binder told me.

To make it at home, first find 2 bowls and a cake pan.

Stir together wet ingredients: olive oil, milk, eggs, orange juice and zest, Grand Marnier.

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake from Food52

Then stir together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda.

  

Then stir them all together.

  

    

Pour into pan. Now bake.

olive oil cake

Maialino also serves it at breakfast in muffin form, and they've been known to turn it into a birthday cake, layered with mascarpone buttercream.

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake from Food52

And should you still want to sell it a little harder on Friday -- Binder will be serving it on Maialino's Valentine's menu scattered with heirloom citrus segments and pomegranate seeds. "A little bit different from your typical chocolate and raspberries," she said. Good.

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake from Food52

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Adapted slightly from Maialino Restaurant in New York City

Makes a 9-inch round cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (87)

Tags: genius, olive oil cake, dessert, maialino, olive oil, cake, Valentine's Day, holiday, everyday cooking, baking

Comments (87)

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23 days ago Natalie Bindert

This looks delicious! Do you think I would be able to use soy milk or another non-dairy option? And do you have any suggestions for what would be the closest substitute? I know one reader said they tried coconut milk and liked the results.

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5 months ago Eloisa

Hi would like to know if theres any substitute for grand marnier? Thankyou :)

Stringio

4 months ago Marija Simat

Living in Croatia at the moment, I made this with Maraschino liqueur and I preferred it to Grand Marnier. However, it is probably not widely available in the States. Should you get you hands on a bottle or two, make sure you try it on this cake, it is wonderful!

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6 months ago Friulana

Easter morning, I have just popped one into the oven to take over to friends for dinner. We loved the first olive oil torta ....the flavour profile was everything about home and my friulan parents refusing to use butter at every turn. This version is spongy/pudding like. My crumb didn't turn out like the photo bunt no way was I disappointed. ( I used a ten and three quater inch round pan and so this time I am going with the nine) to see if that affects the oil sinking to the bottom of the cake. This time I reduced the oil quantity by a third to 1 cup and the sugar by 1/4 cup. I live this cake!

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5 months ago Janet Gustafson

The next time I make mine I am going to reduce the olive oil to 1 cup as well. Everyone liked the amount of sugar so I will leave it the same.

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6 months ago ELAINE ANDERZON

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND MAKE THIS W/ NELLIE & JOES KEY LIME JUICE!! IT'S THE REAL DEAL! IT IS MADE FROM REAL KEY LIMES IN THE FL.KEYS AND I FIND IT AT ALMOST ALL MAJOR GROCERY STORES IN THE SOUTH.IF IN OTHER AREAS OF COUNTRY TRY TRADER JOES OR ONLINE[MAYBE THEIR SITE OR EBAY] IT HAS A KEY LIME PIE RECEIPE ON THE BOTTLE THAT MY FAMILY & FRIENDS HAVE BEGGED FOR FOR 30 YRS FOR EVERY OCCASION.ITS ONLY THEIR JUICE,EGGS & SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK & 15 MINS.ADD A MERINGUE OR NOT W/A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST .THE ONLY THING IS YOU WILL EITHER HAVE TO GIVE AWAY YOUR SECRET'[THEIR JUICE] OR BE HOUNDED TO MAKE FOR ALL THOSE WHOEVER TASTE IT.IT'S ONLY 3.50 A BTL & YOU GET 4 OR 5 PIES FROM EACH BTL.I USED IT INSTEAD OF THE GRAND MAIRNER AND O.J. IN THIS CAKE & AND WE LOVED IT.NOW IF SOMEONE COULD TELL ME AN ALTERNATIVE TO CONDENSED MILK,THE PIE WOULD BE GUILT FREE.IT ALSO IS A GREAT MARINADE.MORE JOY!!!!!

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6 months ago Janet Gustafson

I used an 8"x3" Wilton cake pan, sprayed with Bakers Joy since I didn't have any parchment paper on hand and it turned out perfectly by baking it 1 hour 5 minutes. My rose society members LOVED it.

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6 months ago JW

I made this cake three times in a month and it was raved about and devoured each time. I did, by the third time, cut back a shade on the olive oil; I also bumped up the citrus scent a bit by adding orange essence, which I will continue doing. I love the leftovers as the cake gets almost pudding-y in density.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

7 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Incidentally, we found that the crumb became somewhat greasy and much heavier on the second day;the problem worsened on the third day(so much so that I would not have served it to company). Did anyone else have that problem? I followed the recipe to the letter, other than using a cake that was a bit shorter than 2". (The recipe did not include that instruction on the day that I made it, right after it was first posted.)
The cake rounded nicely, without spilling over, however. ;o)

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7 months ago Amy

Yes, day #2 saw the cake with more oil settling to the bottom. The cake was gone after that, so don't know how day #3 would have been. I attributed it to 1)losing some of the cake to overflow and 2) the heavy oil settling out.

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7 months ago Amy

Oh, PS: I made it gluten free using Pamela's instead of flour.

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7 months ago Amy

This was a delicious cake. Be forewarned: They are serious about a pan with at least 2" sides! But the cake was more than worth it.

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7 months ago EatsMeetsWest

You had me at 'cake' :)

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7 months ago Shihtzumama

This may be old news, but Real Simple magazine's March issue features a Mandarin Olive Oil cake.

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7 months ago Sydney Yeo

I really want to incorporate some rosemary into this cake. Does anyone have any advice as to how best that could work? My current ideas are 1. replacing some of the orange zest with chopped rosemary (or simply adding some chopped rosemary into the recipe) or 2. infusing the olive oil with a sprig of rosemary.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Miglore

7 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

My brother used to make a similar cake with 2-3 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary and the zest of 2-3 oranges -- I remember it being great.

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7 months ago Sydney Yeo

Awesome, I made this as a layer cake this morning with rosemary in the bottom layer and used the strawberry balsamic topping from this recipe http://food52.com/recipes... on the top layer. Am now at work praying it turns out okay for my birthday dinner later! Thank you for the recipe.

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7 months ago Mariuccia

to Sydney Yeo, I would suggest bruising some rosemary and leaving it in the olive oil for a while, I did this with the zest of the orange while I got everything else together.

Robin

7 months ago robin

I made this cake for my mother inlaw's 90th birthday. I didn't have a 9 inch pan, so I used an 8 inch one and made little cupcakes for the kids! All turned out beautifully. Served it with a bowl of whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

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8 months ago Varyn Burton

I made this cake today and it is a perfect cake. Rich, dense and not too sweet. My family loves it. But...how many calories? I'm afraid to know!

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8 months ago Kathi Plomin

Make sure to use a cake pan with 2" high sides.

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8 months ago Kathy

I didn't see baking time and temp. Also, there was no pan prep noted. I will probably line pan with parchment paper. OK?

Miglore

8 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Kathy, check out the recipe page for the full instructions: http://food52.com/recipes...

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8 months ago susan chilton

I have long been a fan of olive oil cakes and this one is a 'must try' for me. For a (mostly) gluten-free version I will try substituting spelt flour.

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8 months ago Terry Malouf

I have enjoyed all the comments from snowbound folks who stayed indoors to bake! Unfortunately, due to the snow, my husband did not make it home from DC to Colorado in time for Valentine's Day, and he is actually on an Amtrak which was faster than his rebooked flight. The cake is in the oven, spilling over like crazy! I scraped the goop off the bottom of the oven and tasted it. It is wonderful! I made this with lemon zest and lemon juice (hubby's favorite flavor). Since I wasn't sure Grand Marnier would work with lemon, I used Domaine Canton, a French ginger liqueur. I think it's a winner.

Tomatoes

8 months ago arthurb3

Yummy!

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8 months ago Terry Malouf

That Squash & Chickpea Salad sounds amazing! Same with Celery Soup. You have great taste. I am signing up to follow you!