Cake

The Most Beloved Genius Dessert of All Time

April 25, 2018

The most popular dessert in Genius Recipes history? Why, surely it must be Dorie Greenspan & Pierre Hermé’s World Peace Cookies! (Everyone’s still talking about them.)

Or maybe it's Alice Medrich’s fudgy Best Cocoa Brownies, or some other recipe that’s already been celebrated hither and thither across the baking universe. No? But it's definitely something chocolate—right?

At least that’s what I thought. But, in honor of the Genius Desserts cookbook launching for pre-order this week (it’s heading off to the printers as we speak!), I decided to actually look into your number-one Genius dessert to date. Using our handy recipe filter system—which is based on some algorithmic combination of faves (a.k.a. that little heart button that appears at the top of every recipe), saves, comments, and astrological sign—I beep-bop-booped to find the fairest of them all.

As famous and well-loved as those iconic recipes are, your deep-down favorite turned out to be a bit more of an underdog: Maialino’s Olive Oil Cake. Ta-da?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I dessicated orange and lemon slices to put on top and around the cake stand for a little more aesthetic appeal.) It has also become my husband's favorite-ever, even beating out his mom's lemon tart as birthday dessert-of-choice. Happy to see it's found so many other admirers :)”
— Alison M.
Comment

I want you to look at the original photos below—the cake is a little lumpy, humbly photographed in the dark, with zero suggestion of garnish or drink pairing. This is not the kind of cake that would catch fire on Instagram these days, like twirly rose cakes and terrarium cakes and homemade Funfetti do.

Thanks for noticin' me.

But looks, as we know, aren’t everything. Here are a few reasons why I think you love this cake so much. For one thing, it’s the perfect olive oil cake—a genre that’s surprisingly hard to crack, at the refreshing midpoint of the savory-sweet continuum.

It’s also pretty much the laziest cake recipe around—no electric machinery needed, no waiting for butter to soften or eggs to whip: You just whisk the dry, whisk the wet, whisk together, boom. The oil helps make cakes much more resilient against overbaking and staling than butter does (and olive oil specifically provides flavor that neutral oils don’t).

I love that a cake that's looked so unassuming and unadorned since 2014 is tops for you. But one last lovable thing about this cake is that it’s a real chameleon—Food52ers have filled it with pineapple curd and topped it with lavender whipped cream and turned it into, yes, chocolate cake.

This cake is perfection. There I said it💎🖖🏻
Food52er paramount

The recipe's comments section—at 316 and counting—is a trove of new ideas and happy examples of cooks helping fellow cooks out when they're wondering how the cake bakes at altitude or in a loaf pan or as muffins (great, great, really great).

Hello, strawberry season!

Its affable nature also made it the perfect landing pad for one of the brand-new Genius desserts from the book—20th Century Cafe pastry chef Michelle Polzine's very, very low and slow-roasted strawberries—pictured here, the deep berry syrup mingling with the whiffs of orange and olive oil.

Since strawberry season is finally pretty much a go for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, I couldn't keep this springy new topping to myself till September. Live it up with everyone's favorite cake just like this, or go your own way—just be sure to come back and tell us all about it.

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The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.

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21 Comments

Ecole N. May 7, 2018
I made this cake and it was superb. I made fresh whipped cream with orange zest and orange juice to go on top: fabulous, but what made it all worthwhile was the cake, hands down.
 
Karen G. May 4, 2018
That's a lot of oil for one cake. Could I substitute 1/3 cup apple sauce for 1/3 cup olive oil to maintaine the moisture?
 
MJ April 27, 2018
Can this cake be made with gluten-free flour (instead of all purpose flour) and almond milk (instead of whole milk)? Anybody tried this yet?
 
Monica B. April 27, 2018
I imagine that it would work fairly well. You probably won't get the same texture but it should be delicious. I think using some almond flour or coconut flour, in addition to the GF would be fantastic.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 28, 2018
Hi MJ, I recommend skimming through the comments on the recipe page—I think some folks have done both of these things (plus lots of other tweaks) with success: https://food52.com/recipes/26709-maialino-s-olive-oil-cake#comments
 
LLStone April 27, 2018
This is my go-to dessert. It's so very good, and so versatile. I sing its praises!!
 
daisybrain April 27, 2018
I get asked to make this cake all the time by people for whom I've previously made it. It's damn near perfect.
 
Ttrockwood April 26, 2018
I am not a skilled baker and make this when i need a cake, usually with lemon zest and swapping more oj in for the grand marnier. I love making this into muffins as well- i fell in love with the olive oil muffins at Maialino and having one with some fruit for breakfast keeps me full and happy!
 
Tracy April 25, 2018
You are right. This is one of the best and easiest cakes to make! Decadent and delicious. Baked in my solar oven with the roasted strawberries. Thank-you!!
 
Mimi April 25, 2018
If I take out the grand marnier should I add more liquid?
 
Monica B. April 26, 2018
most likely. More orange juice maybe.
 
Alison M. April 25, 2018
I baked and served this cake at my wedding, along with a strawberry-champagne layer cake and homemade funfetti! (I dessicated orange and lemon slices to put on top and around the cake stand for a little more aesthetic appeal.) It has also become my husband's favorite-ever, even beating out his mom's lemon tart as birthday dessert-of-choice. Happy to see it's found so many other admirers :)
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 28, 2018
Love this, Alison!
 
Monica B. April 25, 2018
I often make this with finely ground semolina flour or half white/half cornmeal and it is so great. Works in a loaf pan too.
 
NandR April 25, 2018
Will 2% milk work with this recipe? Thanks!
 
Ttrockwood April 26, 2018
Yes, no problem!
 
Kimberly S. April 25, 2018
This is my go to cake, loved by every single person who has eaten it. I have baked it so many times that I have lost count. I’ve been asked for the recipe almost the same number of times. I couldn’t sing it’s praises enough. Love this cake!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 25, 2018
Great to hear, Kimberly—I'm so happy it's been a hit.
 
CDP April 25, 2018
Can you please include the metrics volume measure for the cake? (Which sounds delicious!) Thank you.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 25, 2018
Sure thing! The original recipe didn't have them, but everything in the book has been retested (and re-retested :) with metric measurements, so I just added them to the recipe.
 
Terese F. April 25, 2018
Hi! I can’t wsit to try this and! My question: will it be possible to make this in a loaf pan? Thank you!