Olive Oil Citrus Cake with Rhubarb Compote

I am in love with this cake.

This might be because I first spotted it on one of my favourite sites, Sweet Amandine, where Jess writes about life and food in such a thoughtful and beautiful way. Jess’ recipes are always appealing to me and her dreamy and poetic photos are inspiring.

Or it might be because I am somewhat obsessed with olive oil when it is used in sweet recipes. I first encountered this when I made this lemon curd olive oil tart which has since become a staple in my baking repertoire. I love the way the olive oil adds something ethereal to a sweet dish, something unexpected and wonderful. Jess has a recipe for olive oil madeleines that I am going to try very soon.

I think, however, the main reason that I love this cake is that when I made it for the very first time on Wednesday it was for a sweet and special group of women who seemed to love this cake as much as I do.

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On Wednesday night Sarolta and I hosted a Supper in the Kitchen for a group that had been put together by my cousin Leslie. Leslie and I reconnected at my Grandmother’s 99th birthday party a year ago and since then we have gotten together a few times to do some private cooking classes. Leslie considers herself a novice cook but her enthusiasm about learning new techniques and working with new ingredients, her inquisitive and intuitive nature about food and her deep desire to gather people together around a table has made her the best student I have ever had.

That she wanted to gather a group of her dearest friends and bring them for a cooking class meant a lot to me and I was eager to meet these women that she had talked about so lovingly at our earlier classes.

When everyone had arrived we gathered in the kitchen and Leslie went around the room introducing each of her friends and explained what the unique connection was to each woman. It was a sweet and touching moment to hear how each of these individual lives initially intersected through work, or kids, or summer cabins or neighbourhoods. How from these first interactions these women have become so important and special to one another. They go on trips as near as Bellingham and as far as India together, they have dinners together, take walks and share a book club and they are also there for one another when things are sad and difficult.

Leslie used words like treasured and beloved and cherished to describe her friends and over the course of the evening, watching this group talk and eat and laugh together, you could really feel the deep bond that this little tribe has forged. The joy that these women bring to one another lives was a wonderful thing to see. It was a great reminder to never take a valued friendship for granted.

At one point I looked over at Sarolta who was prepping food and washing dishes and gently and thoughtfully stirring the risotto for the main course and I felt so glad to have my own dear friend there with me in the kitchen, working so hard, determined to make a go of this little business of ours.

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At the risk of sounding cheesy I would say that this rustic little cake has a lot of the same attributes as a dear friend.

It is humble and comforting, easy and adaptable, can mix and mingle at any type of event and I am pretty sure that it travels well.

On Wednesday we served it alongside a panna cotta with a rhubarb compote and the next day I ate the very last piece with my morning coffee. But I have plans to make another today, slice it up and wrap a few of the pieces in parchment and twine and deliver them to a few of my nearest and dearest.


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10 Responses to Olive Oil Citrus Cake with Rhubarb Compote

  1. Leslie says:

    I am now the proud owner of nine new bright and shiny stainless steel lemon/lime rasp zester thing-a-ma-jigs….hmmm, wonder who might like one?

    It was an amazing night of learning, fun and friendship.

    You are a superb teacher.

    They all adored you and Sarolta, and your kitchen.

    We are planning a return trip.

    Delicious and delightful.

    Thank you so much!

  2. Sheryl says:

    Well its a good thing you and Jess don’t believe in secret recipes, because I love olive oil and never imagined it could be used this way… maybe we can have this cake on Keats this summer… with blackberries??

  3. Leslie: Good for you for getting the lemon zesters! Your girlfriends will love you!! And thanks for all of your love and support, I can’t wait for out next cooking extravaganza together…

    Sheryl: Yes, yes, yes we can. But now you have to promise to come to Keats. I officially have it on my master “to do” list.

  4. cathy says:

    great cake – made it this weekend and all loved it!
    thanks for another yummy one — you are not doing anything for my figure!

  5. Dee G says:

    I’ve always wanted to make an olive oil cake, but hadn’t gotten around to it until yesterday. I made this one for a dinner party and it was spectacular! I sense this is a flexible recipe and would be lovely flavored with perhaps rosemary with a plum compote, or sage with pears. But the citrus was just divine! And lovely with the rhubarb. Thanks for the inspiring post!

  6. Cathy and Dee: I am so glad that you both made the cake! It is so simple and tasty, I’m glad that you guys gave it a thumbs up. I am intrigued by the concept of pairing some rosemary and plums. Dee if you try other combinations that you find winning I would love it if you would let me know.

  7. Tanis says:

    Yummy cake, I have another funny cooking story to share with you, when I see you next. Thankfully Oma bailed me out.

  8. Tanis: I did hear about the zesting incident. I will go back and clarify how to zest a citrus fruit so no one else will be confused. Oma said you guys ended up with 2 cups?! Funny thing though, at a cooking class a couple of weeks ago one of the students said how when she first started cooking she went to the store and asked where she could buy some lemon zest as she thought it came in jars. That is what I love about the cooking thing, it really is just one life-long learning curve!

  9. Meredith says:

    Planning to make this cake for a few of my closest friends this weekend, is there an olive oil that you would recommend? Missing seeing you on the playground 🙁

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