Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Breakfast Cake

By • April 17, 2013 • 73 Comments

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Author Notes: Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a classic pairing. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil are a classic vinaigrette. Surely, I thought to myself, all three must come to sweet-and-sour harmony in a cake.

This recipe came together in my head as I thought about the theme of this contest. I knew I wanted to take the vinegar idea in a sweet direction. Vinegar caramels came to mind, and then I thought of a tartly sweet caramel sauce. That made me think of upside-down cakes, and all at once, the recipe came together. I decided to build on the usual technique for making an attractive upside-down cake: spiral your fruit or toppings at the bottom of the pan, pour over a caramel-based glaze prepped on the stovetop, pour your batter over that, bake, cool, and invert to oohs and ahhs. In order to make sure the flavor of the vinegar was heightened and emphasized, I wanted to include it in both the glaze and the cake. Olive oil cake seemed an inspired pairing with the balsamic vinegar, and so I adapted an olive oil cake recipe I'd worked on previously, swapping in balsamic vinegar for the rosewater I'd previously featured. To keep the aesthetic of the cake spring-like, as a match for the season and the strawberries, I used golden balsamic vinegar instead of its darker, thicker sibling.

This cake comes together quickly. Dense and moist, with an intriguing tartness to offset the jam-like quality of the strawberries, it is rich with eggs and not too sweet. Oh go on, make it for breakfast.
indieculinary

Food52 Review: This was a really lovely cake, even if I couldn't see myself eating it for breakfast. The strawberry layer is jammy and complex from the balsamic caramel, and the cake is not too sweet, but nice and moist with overtones of the fruity olive oil that I used as well as a tanginess from the vinegar. The strawberries shrink a little, so while I was so set on trying to make it look pretty, I didn't put enough strawberries on the top. Next time I'll use the suggested amount. The hour of baking seems like a long time, but the cake is nice and moist from the olive oil and buttermilk, and the dark brown crust adds a layer of complexity that I really liked. drbabs

Serves 8

Golden balsamic vinegar glaze and strawberry spiral

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with olive oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper (this is an important step -- it will help your cake release from the pan after baking without disturbing the arrangement of your strawberries). Spray again with olive oil.
  3. Remove stems and slice strawberries vertically. Arrange them in a spiral, starting with the outside layer and overlapping slightly at the bottom of the cake pan.
  4. Combine the brown sugar, golden balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a stainless steel pan and whisk to emulsify. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until thickened enough that it drips more slowly from your stirring spoon. Remove from heat and pour carefully over the arranged strawberries.
  5. To make the cake batter, start by whisking together in one bowl the sugar, buttermilk, vinegar, and eggs.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients in three stages, stirring to incorporate each time.
  8. Add your olive oil in 3 stages, folding and stirring to incorporate each time.
  9. Slowly and carefully pour the batter over the strawberries. Don't pour too rapidly, or you'll displace your carefully-arranged spiral.
  10. Bake for approximately an hour. The cake is done when the top is golden and it has pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan.
  11. Cool for 10 minutes, and then run a knife between the cake and the pan to make sure it is completely loosened.
  12. Put a flat plate atop the pan, and then, using potholders to protect your hands, quickly flip the cake while holding the plate tightly to the pan.
  13. Slowly lift the pan, and the cake will be sitting, covered in parchment paper, on the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and be greeted by a beautiful spiral of sweet-tart fruit atop a golden cake.
Jump to Comments (73)

Comments (73) Questions (1)

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5 months ago Callebaut

Am I the only one who thought the vinegar flavor in the glaze was way too strong?

My-haircut

4 months ago indieculinary

The taste of the vinegar should definitely be evident in the finished cake-- but if you decide to try making it again, try boiling your glaze longer, and the sweetness should intensify to counter the vinegar.

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7 months ago Soc Page

has anyone tried it with flavored balsamic vinegars? I have a green apple one and I am tempted to try it with chopped apples. any thoughts?

Stringio

7 months ago Lesley

Carmelize the apples in balsamic?

My-haircut

4 months ago indieculinary

Did you try it?

Stringio

7 months ago Lesley

What is golden balsamic. I've heard of white but not golden.

My-haircut

7 months ago indieculinary

Hi Lesley-- they're interchangeable. Have fun!

Stringio

7 months ago Lesley

Thank you!!!
Im actually going to rework this into a gluten free
recipe. I'm looking forward to playing with it.

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over 1 year ago pgw

what's the procedure(s) for having some of the strawberries in the batter (like in one of the pictures above)?

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

To be quite honest, they're not really supposed to do that. Something unusual must have happened for the testers. If you're trying to get that effect, I'd suggest pouring your batter in as rapidly as possible, and maybe gently shaking the pan before you put it in the oven.

Profilefood52

over 1 year ago DeannaMarie

Deanna is a Recipe Tester for Food52

Must say --- this is a truly beautiful cake. Recently whipped one up with fresh peaches. Not too sweet, it allows the fruit to really shine through. Even my non-dessert loving friends can't get enough of it. Kudos!!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Thank you!

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over 1 year ago Michelle Labi

My peach/fig version just went in the oven. Fingers crossed!]

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Fingers crossed over here too. :)

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over 1 year ago Triada

Just made this with fresh blueberries from the farmers market -- DELICIOUS.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Yum! Good call on the blueberries!

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over 1 year ago ctd

The directions say to slice the strawberries vertically -- does that mean to cut each berry once (in half) or to slice each berry a few times? I had a hard time telling from the final picture. Can't wait to try this!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi,
It really depends on the size of your berries, but I usually get about 3-4 vertical slices per strawberry.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi everyone-- if you're looking for photos of the finished cake-- I just saw this one and they did a fantastic job with the strawberry spiral. I think it's even better than mine. :) http://www.cookingbythebook...

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over 1 year ago vicki

Is there any fruit you would recommend as a substitute for the strawberries? I'm allergic but this recipe sounds too good not to try.

Kalamarketingphoto

over 1 year ago FeastofGreens

I wonder if figs or pears might be an interesting substitute.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

I think figs are a great idea, and pears would probably hold up. I think any stone fruit would work very well with the golden balsamic vinegar-- I vote peaches or plums. (Or figs as FeastofGreens recommended!)

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over 1 year ago Triada

Blueberries work!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Nice!

Kalamarketingphoto

over 1 year ago FeastofGreens

My compliments to you. The flavours in this cake are like nothing I have ever tasted before. I wanted to mention that the batter was way more than my 8" cake pan could hold. I wonder if anyone else has encountered this problem? Also, regular balsamic vinegar does indeed alter the aesthetics of the cake greatly!:-).

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi-- that's interesting regarding the batter volume problem. May I ask how tall your 8 inch cake pan is? The pan I used in developing this recipe was 3 inches tall...

Kalamarketingphoto

over 1 year ago FeastofGreens

I used self-rising flour by accident. I suspect that is why the batter rose as much. The cake is lovely though. Thank you for an inspired recipe.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Glad you liked it! I think I'm going to try it with figs next time-- great idea.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Wow, that's fantastic! So no other substitutions were necessary? Just the gluten-free flour?

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over 1 year ago à la crème

This cake looks so delicious, I can't wait to try this recipe!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Thanks!

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over 1 year ago Kari2011

I made this cake today. Delicious. I goofed as another person did and didn't thicken the glaze enough, but the flavor is still spectacular.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Glad you enjoyed it!

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over 1 year ago Foodaholicposts

I just made this yesterday and it was amazing! Loved the favors of the cake, and it looked delicious too. See pictures at http://foodaholicposts...

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi,
Thanks so much for the post and the feedback! I added a note to my post about the cake on my blog to send people your way for more pictures: http://indieculinary.com...

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over 1 year ago Foodaholicposts

Thank you for the shout out to my blog! I cannot wait to try some of your other recipes - the hot toddy tart is especially tempting!

Kate_crop

over 1 year ago chickenX2

Do you think AP flour would br problematic?

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi-- the cake will probably be a little tougher, (the moist crumb won't be as delicate), but I think it would otherwise turn out as expected...

Kate_crop

over 1 year ago chickenX2

Makes sense. What about making it ahead of time. Will it last well overnight?

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Oh, definitely. Plus that way you can just get up, make some coffee, and eat it for breakfast!

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over 1 year ago vaughan

Thanks, I just wanted to see your finished product! Do you think that regular balsamic would be too strong? Want to try the cake but not buy more vinegar.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

I think flavor-wise, regular balsamic should be a fine substitute... it will probably taste a little more intense, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm curious what color your cake will turn out, though!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

P.S. Looks like foodaholicposts hooked us up with a nice photo of the top! http://foodaholicposts...

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over 1 year ago vaughan

please show a photo of the cake with the top/spiral

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi Vaughan-- I'm afraid I only took one picture of this cake... in a poorly-lit kitchen, late at night, with Instagram. It's the third one when you click through them; Food52 shot the other two. Do you have a question about how to lay out the strawberries I might be able to help with? Really, just start from the outside of the pan, overlapping each strawberry with the previous one, and keep adding smaller concentric circles of overlapped strawberries until you get to the middle.

Landing

over 1 year ago saenyc

hmm... wonder if this could work as a muffin?

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

I think the cake recipe independent of the balsamic strawberries would probably work fine as a muffin. But I'm not sure the inversion idea-- to bring the spiraled strawberries to the top-- would work so well in muffin format, given that muffins produce rounded tops. But if you try it, please let me know how it works out! Maybe you could serve them upside-down? :)

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over 1 year ago Loredona

I made the cake yesterday and the strawberries never really caramelized? I think it was due to the fact that there was a lot of liquid from the brown sugar, golden balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey that was poured over the berries. I did try and reduce it as much as possible, but there was still too much liquid and when I turned it over on the plate all the liquid poured out. It still came out very moist and really delicious however, next time I may make it in my 10 inch cast-iron skillet for a more caramelized top!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Hi-- I think trying this in a cast-iron skillet sounds like a great idea. Something unexpected definitely occurred if you had a lot of liquid pour out. My best guesses as to the liquid problem are that either the glaze needed to be boiled longer, or the type of cake pan you used didn't conduct heat the same way as the one I tested with, (you probably had the same thought, leading to your cast iron skillet idea), or you didn't leave the cake in as long as I did-- I went for a really golden top. Thanks for the feedback-- learning about varying results in other peoples' kitchens helps me become a better recipe developer-- hopefully. :)

Stringio

9 months ago Xochitl Herrera Villarreal

Loredona, did you try it with your cast iron skillet? I only have two springform round pans (the ones that you unbuckle instead of turn over) and the bottoms aren't flat but waffled, so I'm hoping I can use my skillet instead.