20 February 2013
There are the days when I tiptoe past the the sink full of dishes and try to ignore it as it grows into a pile, when a nap is somewhere between irresistible and imperative, when I throw together what I can for meals. I have been spending a lot of time in the studio and on my computer working on an exciting new project (more on that soon!). I have also been immersed in reading, researching and preparing for the new addition to our family who will be arriving in a few months. My eyes glaze over and my head starts to throb and I realize that I desperately need to step away from the computer and do something tangible and real.
I keep coming back to this again and again: the need to connect with the rituals and routines of home and kitchen. Soon, the afternoon sun is shining on the empty sink and the multi-colored dishes gleam brightly in the dish rack. I didn't need to bake a cake, but I needed to make something simple, to mix flour and milk and eggs and let the hot oven work its magic. There is nothing utilitarian and practical about an olive oil and rosemary cake punctuated with shards of dark chocolate. Its certainly not a pantry staple but I had all the ingredients in my cupboards to make this incredibly easy and very rewarding cake. My recent forays into the kitchen have been sporadic and I've been missing the inspiration and new ideas from cookbooks so I was happy that this page in Good to the Grain caught my eye.
This cake was the perfect simple indulgence for a cold February afternoon. The delicately crusted top yields to a soft and not too sweet crumb. Dark chocolate and rosemary play on the edge of savory but stay sweet enough for a beautiful dessert or snack if you can't wait until after dinner to have a slice. I think this cake would be wonderful with nuts or orange zest instead of rosemary, but it really doesn't need improvement. The flavors are elegant and the cake takes little time or work. Just right for watching to golden sunlight as in lingers on the kitchen walls and catches tree branches outside, hinting that the seasons are shifting ever so slightly and winter will give way to spring again.
Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
I did not have spelt flour on hand, so I used whole wheat instead. If you have spelt flour, definitely use it but if you don't you should still make the cake.
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary)
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao is recommended) chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350'. Rub a 9 1/2 fluted tart pan (or other pan of similar size) with olive oil. Sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the eggs to thoroughly combine. Mix the eggs, olive oil, milk and rosemary until smooth. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add the chocolate and stir to distribute evenly. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown (darker around the edges) and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy while warm or once it has cooled.