Baking is science, the bakers of the culinary world are the nerds of the culinary world; they love to measure and weigh ingredients, they love to know the temperature of the ingredients and stress over imperfections in a recipe
I'm grateful that there are people who will test and test a cake recipe or cookie recipe until it is perfection, but I’m not a scientist—just ask Dr. C. I like to cook and add ingredients together to come up with something mouthwateringly delicious…I can’t be bothered with having the butter at a certain temperature, or that the flour weighs a certain amount…that’s what the dip and sweep cup method is for. Baking here in Italy is a whole different ball game…the past few days I’ve been experimenting with Simonetta’s olive oil cake from Dario Cecchini’s restaurant in Chianti. The first hurdle was leavening---the original recipe had none in it, which I was sure was a mistake, since this cake would be leaden if it didn’t have anything to make it rise. Then the flour…there are so many different types of flour in the supermarkets here, 00, 0, and farina con levito (self rising flour Italian style) The farina con levito is what home cooks here use to make cakes, and other desserts. So I settled on the farina con levito, and then went from there. After two tries, I think we have a winner which I put up online a few days ago.
Today I’m making a chocolate olive oil cake from a recipe that I adapted from the late Leslie Revsin a fabulous woman and chef. Since I’m working with different ingredients, an oven I’m not really crazy about that reads in Celsius, I’m fiddling with the ingredients to get a consistency that seems right to me, and it’s in the oven now—if it’s a dud, I’m fine with that, I’ll just try again. My peanut gallery here is very enthusiastic when they come through and smell the chocolate baking, so I’m encouraged. Just pulled it out of the oven, cut off a piece, and it's a winner, so please try this one!
Wishing you a Buona giornata from Spello.
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
- Coat the inside of a 9-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, put the cocoa and espresso, pour the water over and whisk to blend. Add the eggs, yolk, olive oil and sugar, and whisk until blended.
- Add the flour and baking soda, and stir to blend, making sure there are no lumps.
- Transfer to the prepared baking pan, and bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.