Happy belated Easter everyone and I hope y'all had a good long holiday weekend. Instead of hosting an Easter Sunday brunch I chose to host a dinner for the premiere of the third season of my favorite book/tv show Game of Thrones. Needless to say, there was plenty of food to represent the seven kingdoms though I might have overestimated on the amount of food this time. Still, leftovers are great because you get a couple of days off from cooking during the week and I am using the extra time to catch up with reading or any other activity that has been in desperate need of my attention.
I baked an olive oil pound cake for the dinner along with a few other desserts. This is a very simple cake recipe, the cake crumb is moist while the texture is light and airy. That is exactly the way I like my slice of pound cake, of course with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Pound cakes are what I think of when people say a rustic everyday cake or dessert. Though they were originally invented to clean up the pantry (equal quantities of flour, eggs, and sugar; hence the name "pound") they have come a long way and have become a lot more interesting.
I find olive oil pound cakes to be a little more fascinating than the butter based versions because the oil affords a lot more flexibility if you want to get adventurous with flavors. It's a good and heavenly marriage of flavors! A little bit of an herb or a spice seasoning can go a long way with olive oil and this remains true for most olive oil based cakes. This cake also has a slight nutty flavor from ground almond meal and uses skim milk (you can go with whole milk, if you prefer) This version of the pound cake, also uses a sprinkling of freshly ground green cardamom pod seeds and a pinch of saffron strands. The light fragrance of the freshly ground cardamom brings a sweet flavor to the cake while the saffron brightens the color of the yolks in the cake. What could be more wonderful than something so simple and delicious for an everyday cake. Of course you can skip the cardamom and saffron and add your own flavors. Feel free to experiment with other combinations, I've made this cake before with sage/rosemary and crystallized ginger bits just like my cookies.
cardamom and saffron olive oil pound cake
servings : 2 cake loaves, about 20 slices
a little olive oil for greasing loaf pans
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
a pinch of saffron
5 cold large eggs
1 cup low-fat or skim milk
2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling on the surface of the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and then grease with a little olive oil.
2. Sift the flour, almond meal, and baking soda. Return any bits of almond meal that might remain in the sieve back to the flour mix.
3. In a stand mixer, attach the paddle and beat the sugar, salt, olive oil, cardamom and saffron in the mixing bowl until smooth. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the entire batter becomes creamy and light yellow in color.
4. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until completely blended. Pour in the milk and the rest of the flour mix and beat until completely blended.
5. Pour and divide the batter into the two prepared loaf pans. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the centers are firm or until a bamboo skewer or knife comes out clean from the center. Sprinkle the extra sugar on the top surface of each cake and put the tins back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pans. Slide a knife around the edges of the cake to release it and transfer it to a wire rack to cool. Slice the cakes with a sharp serrated knife at room temperature.