I tend to get a bit depressed this time of year. The holiday’s are over, the house seems oddly bare once the decorations are down and the cold no longer brings promises of a white Christmas. I tend to do things like mope around in my pj’s all weekend, put off running errands knowing it takes a full 11 minutes for my car’s heater to warm up and feel guilty (but not enough so) about not taking my dogs for walks. However, the one thing that cheers me up, and I mean almost instantly so is seeing blood oranges back in stock at my local Whole Foods. I tend to go a little dessert (and Blood Orange Martini) crazy, scouring the internet for inspiration and baking with abandon. And this cake right here, well it was on the very top of my list.
The key to any Olive Oil cake is using high quality olive oil. Cold pressed, extra-virgin and single sourced are more important than one might think. For every-day olive oil, I use this, but for dressings, cakes and those ‘special occasion’ dishes I pull out the good stuff. And, conveniently my husband’s good friend imports the stuff straight from Greece. You can find it here. The cute packaging is just a bonus.
Let’s get back to the true beauty of this cake, which happens to be the plethora of candied blood oranges I get to spread over the top. Blood oranges are much less harsh in flavor and so stunning they instantly elevate any dessert. I added chocolate chips to my cake, because I had them and because, duh. So, what are you waiting for? Jump on the blood orange train stat, it’s only here for a few short months!
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cups water
2-3 pieces of citrus, sliced into thin rounds (I used blood oranges, but any citrus will do in a pinch)
Honey Olive Oil Cake
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from any of the orange varieties you have)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the Candied Citrus
In a wide skillet, combine the sugar, honey, and water, simmering until all the sugar is dissolved. Carefully place a single layer of citrus rounds into the liquid and simmer until the peels are tender and semi-translucent – about 20 to 25 minutes, turning each slice halfway through. Transfer candied slices to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with remaining slices of citrus.
Note: These can be made ahead of time, stored on the baking sheet in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.
For the Honey Olive Oil Cake
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8″ round cake tin.
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the honey, eggs, milk, and juice. Once combined, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while constantly whisking to create an emulsion.
3. Make a well in the flour bowl and add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just combined.
4. If desired, stir in the chocolate chip pieces
5. Pour into the greased cake tin and tap on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. 6. Place in the middle of the oven and bake until the top springs back when touched and toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean – about 35 to 40 minutes. 7. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, run a knife around the edge, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
For the icing
In a small bowl combine the sugar, milk, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. The consistency of the glaze should be similar to Elmer’s glue. If necessary add a bit more milk to thin. Pour the glaze over the middle of the cooled cake and let drip down the sides. Let the glaze set a bit before topping with the candied citrus slices. Serve at room temperature.