Adapted from Maialino's Olive Oil Cake
When I traveled to Morocco last month, one of the many food treasures I returned with was Toasted Argan Oil - the kind you cook with, not the kind you put in your hair! It's deeply toasty, nutty aroma begged to be baked into an oil-based cake. This version leans hard into that flavor profile by subbing in Pecan Meal for some of the AP Flour, using Turbinado Sugar instead of white granulated sugar, and adding toasted, chopped pecans to the top for texture. The orange flavors from the original recipe remain because they go well with pecans but since I didn't have Grand Marnier, I substituted Dry Curacao. Spring in Western Massachusetts brings local rhubarb (too early for local strawberries!), which here is poached in a syrup that mirrors the orange flavors from the cake. Making 4 4" cakes instead of one large one, multiplies the serving options and you get more of the delicious, sticky edges. Use them all, or freeze some for later.
The result is even more amazing than the cake I imagined when I got my first whiff of that toasty oil! —Leslie Milton
Preheat oven to 350. Toast pecans on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Cool and chop. Set aside.
Butter 4 4" cake pans and line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment. Alternatively, Butter and line a 9"cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pecan meal, sugar, salt baking soda and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the oils, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice and liquor. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
Fill each cake pan 2/3 full with batter and top with the toasted pecans. You will have some extra batter - you can use this for 3-4 muffins - bonus!
bake for 50-55 minutes until the tops are a deep golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack for 30 minutes
Run a small offset spatula around the edges of the cakes and invert onto the wire rack. Cool completely right side up. But no one will judge you if you eat them warm.
Cut the rhubarb on the diagonal into 1/2 pieces and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, Curacao, vanilla paste and orange peel and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb. When the mixture returns to a boil, transfer everything to a heat proof bowl or container. Making sure the rhubarb stays submerged, cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.