Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Breakfast Cake

By • April 17, 2013 86 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.

More Great Recipes: Cakes|Desserts|Fruit|Breakfast & Brunch|Breakfast

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Comments (86) Questions (1)

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3 months ago Jolynn

Hi! I just made this but when I inverted the cake, almost 1/4 (or more) juice/glaze came pouring out of my plate! So right now my entire cake is soaked with the glaze... I sneaked a tiny bite while it was still warm and the flavours are amazing. It's a pity that the cake will be too mushy tho!! Can I know exactly how much do I have to reduce the glaze? To a honey-like consistency? Oh and how long does this cake last in room temp? Or do we have to store it in the fridge? Thank you so much to anyone who can answer my doubts!

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3 months ago Jolynn

1/4 or more cup I mean!

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3 months ago indieculinary

Hi Jolynn,
I usually think of the consistency of the glaze post-reduction as something that coats the back of a spoon, which means you can run your finger through it and the path you make with your finger stays put (i.e., the glaze is thick enough that it doesn't immediately flow right back in where your finger was.) If you can pour off any extra glaze remaining right now, that should help keep your cake from getting soggy. If you're not going to serve the cake right away, the fridge seems like a good idea.

Thanks,
Michelle

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3 months ago Jolynn

I see! Thank you so much for your quick response and tips, Michelle! I'll definitely try this cake out again! This recipe is definitely a keeper, the combination of strawberries, olive oil and balsamic vinegar is truly impeccable (:

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about 1 month ago Jolynn

I'm baking this for a second time right now! the cake is actually in the oven while I'm typing this (my glaze is wayyyyy too thick this time round but cross my fingers it'll turn out great still). On a side note, if you guys are gonna make this cake and happen to read these comments, PLEASE do NOT actually stick your finger through the spoon because I was stupid enough to do that and ended up blistering my finger T_T you can just draw a line using your spoon on the sides of the pan that's coated with the glaze to check for the consistency like you would using your finger on a spoon. Nonetheless I still think Michelle's description of what the consistency of the glaze should be is great! Just wanted to give you guys who are still not-quite-a-pro at cooking/baking like me a heads up hahaha.

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3 months ago Footnotes

I was thinking of making this cake today for dessert tomorrow night. Does it hold up well? (Looks amazing!)

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3 months ago Aysem Sahika Bilgin

Can I use whole milk instead of buttermilk? Looks amazing! Can't wait to try but I don't want to grocery market right now. :)

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3 months ago indieculinary

Hi,
I suggest sticking with the buttermilk for flavor and texture (the acid in the buttermilk helps to tenderize the gluten.) But since the recipe has baking powder (which also brings acid to the game), the cake should still rise just fine with the substitution and you'll probably be okay. Let me know how it turned out, if you tried it!

Best,
Michelle

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3 months ago Lesley

You could always make "faux" buttermilk by adding some acid to the milk.

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5 months ago alicia

can i use normal balsamic, or must it be white or golden?

B9263c85-3b68-4dcb-a276-2e9f04c57469--my-haircut

5 months ago indieculinary

Hi Alicia,
You can use normal balsamic, but the layer of strawberries will darken and the cake may not be as attractive.

Best,
Michelle

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6 months ago Kapatu

It's Sunday morning and we just had a big (some even 2...) slice of your gorgeous cake. Thank you for a superb recipe! I have some pictures and mine looked more like an upside down cake with a layer of strawberries on top. Thought I could attach them to the comment.. Anyway happy baking to all!

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5 months ago indieculinary

Hi,
So glad to hear that you enjoyed the cake. I was looking forward to seeing your pictures-- it looks more like an upside-down cake when I make it, as well.

-Michelle

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about 1 year ago Callebaut

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

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12 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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over 1 year 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?

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over 1 year ago Lesley

Carmelize the apples in balsamic?

B9263c85-3b68-4dcb-a276-2e9f04c57469--my-haircut

12 months ago indieculinary

Did you try it?

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over 1 year ago Lesley

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

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over 1 year ago indieculinary

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

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over 1 year 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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almost 2 years ago pgw

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

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almost 2 years 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.

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about 2 years 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!!

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almost 2 years ago indieculinary

Thank you!

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about 2 years ago Michelle Labi

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

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

Fingers crossed over here too. :)

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about 2 years ago Triada

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

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

Yum! Good call on the blueberries!

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about 2 years 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!

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

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

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about 2 years 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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about 2 years 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.

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about 2 years ago FeastofGreens

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

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about 2 years 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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about 2 years ago Triada

Blueberries work!

B9263c85-3b68-4dcb-a276-2e9f04c57469--my-haircut

about 2 years ago indieculinary

Nice!

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about 2 years 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!:-).

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about 2 years 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...

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about 2 years 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.

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

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

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

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

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about 2 years ago à la crème

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

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

Thanks!

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about 2 years 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.

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about 2 years ago indieculinary

Glad you enjoyed it!

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about 2 years 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...

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about 2 years 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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about 2 years 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!