On a particularly early morning, I found myself sitting in one of London’s east end restaurants working through details of a fast approaching and fairly high pressure event. I must have been the only person in the restaurant at that time and I distinctly remember waiting outside in the drizzle for someone to unlocked the door and let me inside. This particular space is one with the most inspired light even on this misty wooly grey morning and I took a few minutes to admire it as it fell softly over the backs of minimalist birch chairs and polished concrete floors. Being so early, the space was just a hair shy of warm, the ovens having only just begun their day’s labor and coldness from the night before still hanging around ankle level. A familiar conversation ensued soon after and I ordered a cup of black coffee – it felt perfectly austere given my surroundings and I imagined it would also be hottest thing on their early morning menu. continue reading
I subscribe to love.
I subscribe to love with all its swiftness, fleet-of-foot, deep roots, finely feathered wings, quiet gentle tenderness, wild abandon, respectful, transcendent and humble persistence. I suppose I would say that what I really subscribe to is not love but more the spirit of love, its genuineness and possibility. When I stop to think about it, I am gobsmacked at the very many ways love is able to manifest and delighted by the differences in the kinds of loves we encounter. So I think its a wonderful idea to pause for a moment and celebrate the loves, in all their vast and varied qualities in your life.
This is a cake to linger over.
The kind of cake I would make if my dearest girlfriends were in town. The entire afternoon would be spent around the table, deep in delicious conversation, with cup after cup of tea and a slice of this cake.
Or it could have nothing of the sort, bare well worn, well loved wood, the softest washed linen napkins and handmade grey mugs with chunky handles, perfect for holding.
This cake is comfortable in any setting.
It sticks to the roof of your mouth in the most delightful, not too sweet way. Better than the way peanut butter does; with more elegance. The subtle bay infused olive oil is the backbone of this recipe.
Its the sticky bit, the rich bit.
And as your tongue moves to the roof of your mouth, your nose picks up the aroma of the bay. The orange is there too, vibrant but not loud. Its doesn’t compete with the bay or the olive oil. The three are harmonious.
It is unfussy this cake. In this recipe it has an icing glaze, but it needn’t. It is made in a fancy bunt pan because I wanted to use one but could just as easily be made in a loaf pan. The most important part is infusing the olive oil, everything else just falls into place.
I combined some of this recipe with some from here. Both recipes are lovely on their own and I would recommend trying each. I must say, I wouldn’t mind having both writers to tea either.
I use a fruity, medium bodied olive oil because I want to taste it in the cake but still want the bay to come through.
I very gently heat the olive oil. If it gets too hot it will begin to bitter and lose some of its richness. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. A minutes or so on the heat is all really. Then drop in the bay leaves, 3 or 4, fresh if possible and keep warming over a very low heat until the aroma of the bay hits your nose. Leave on the heat about 5 minutes more, taking care that it does not get too hot. Then remove from the heat and let it stand, 2 hours as a minimum but better overnight.
You can make a bit extra if you like and use it to drizzle over salads or a goats cheese. Its not a bad thing to have on hand.
Olive Oil Cake with Bay & Orange
10 bay leaves
80ml fruity medium bodied olive oil (infused with 3 or 4 bay leaves as above)
150g white flour
50g ground almonds
200g golden caster sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
zest from half a medium orange
juice from 1 orange
For the Icing
100 grams icing sugar
1 tbsp cointreau
3 tsp of almond milk (or regular milk)
Preheat the oven to 180 (350F) degrees
Grease and flour your pan carefully.
In a bowl sift together dry ingredients: flour, almonds, sugar and baking powder.
Then in a small bowl gently beat the eggs together with the salt. Tip into the dry mixture along with the olive oil, cointreau, zest and juice from the orange. Gently stir to combine, making sure the batter is free from any lumps.
Pour batter in to your greased and floured baking pan. Top the batter with the remaining bay leaves. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour depending on your pan. When a tester is inserted, it should come out clean.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and turn it over onto a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before icing.
For the icing, combine the sugar with the almond milk and cointreau. Stir well to combine, again making sure there are no lumps. With a spoon drizzle as much or little of the icing down over the top of the cake as you like.