Olive oil cake & honey mascarpone frosting
So I know it’s been a while since I showed my face on this little corner of the internet, but life has just handed me so many curve balls that it felt just impossible for me to take enough time off to sit down chose a recipe, make it, take a picture, research it, and last but not least write about it.
Just to put everything in perspective in the past couple of months I got married, I packed up all our stuff, all by myself might I add, and moved across the Channel to the UK, to a house that was supposed to be fully renovated, but was so far from ready it wasn’t even funny.
All our carefully packed stuff got put into storage in our leaky garage, and we had to move into my mother-in-law’s.
The move and the house, in general, turned out into my biggest “I told you so” moments. You see we gave our contractor 7 months to get our house renovated, thinking that it was more than enough time.
He delayed starting because he was finishing a few bits and bobs. A couple of weeks later I knew he wasn’t going to be able to pull it off in time. I mean ALL the signs were there, but Frenchie, his mother and the contractor all believed that there was plenty of time for the renovation and that I was just being pessimistic.
But before I move on to our not so renovated bungalow, let me tell you about our nightmare move. For starters, we chose to move on the hottest day of the year, which also coincided with the Paris Marathon, that happened right in front of our house. This meant several hours of delays as the road was closed down and the moving van was parked a few blocks away.
The elevator broke down on the first run, trapping me and our 19th-century dining table in it for what seemed like an eternity. I’m pretty sure Dante described the whole scene in the Divine Comedy. Once free, the elevator guy said that there was no way the elevator would be operational until next week.
Frenchie did most of the heavy lifting from then on and I got to put my Tetris skills to a test.
The van Frenchie got, that I begged him not to, seemed a bit too small. But after hours of methodically placing everything I managed to fit it all in, taking advantage of every little nook and cranny. It's safe to say that I had to swallow my words and grant that one to Frenchie.
So finally, six hours behind schedule, and three squabbles later, as we approached customs I realized I had no clue where my passports were.
Turns out I stuffed them in the last box, the one without my packing system. I had been packing for over a month, every box was color coordinated, I had a master list (with copies) of the contents of every box, except that last one.
This was the box in which I just threw all the little bits of miscellanea just before our landlord and I did the walkthrough. When she left I felt so relieved I just taped it closed and decided I was done with everything, treated myself to ice cream and went the next day to a museum, while Frenchie packed his bags.
Fortunately, the box in question was the only one without a color code or a number on it, it was also one of the last boxes to go into the truck, so it was easy to reach at a stop by the side of the road 10 km before reaching the border. To top it all off we missed every single ferry possible and the last one was well over an hour delayed.
But we managed to make it and in one piece because if there is something that can put a tremendous amount of stress on a couple it’s moving. And this one was just simply the worst.
And then the really crappy part began. We arrived and our house was a construction zone. One that didn’t even have a toilet.
Works were so incredibly slow I swear I could hear the house settle. And it was driving me up and down our unpainted walls.
You may not know this about me yet, but I’m not the most patient of people. Quite frankly I don’t really see why patience is a virtue. I’ve always wondered why can’t “hurry the f**k up” be a virtue instead?
Weeks passed and then until our contractor decided that he had spent enough time on our renovation and that he was losing clients because of that. Works came to a complete and utter stop, tools were packed and we were dumped.
It felt like a break-up. A bad one, you know like a kind of break-up you don’t see coming, the one you don’t understand and that gives you no information. That kind of dumped.
So here we were with a house that was maybe around 70% done, in the middle of summer which meant that no one was available to finish our money pit. There were no installed floors, the were holes in the walls, doors were missing, we had no closets. What we did have is a whole lot of disappointment.
Very slowly but surely we have been getting there. We now have floors and closets and doors, well sort of.
And then I decided that I had enough. I’m done with missing baseboards, unfinished door casings, holes in the walls, and all the other missing bits and pieces.
I’m also done with the foxes. As if didn’t have enough on my plate I have a family of foxes and that frolics in the yard at night destroying everything in their path including my little vegetable patch as well as two angry badgers who probably didn’t have enough love growing up and decide to take it all out on the soil surrounding my English roses.
This was the short story, trust me the very short one. It's a little glimpse into all the chaos that is my life right now. So I hope you guys don’t mind how absent I’ve been. On the plus side, I’m making it up to you with cake. A pretty good one I might add.
So enough about my sob story. Let's talk about cake. I'm pretty sure that why you landed on this page in the first place.
Cakes made with olive oil always tend to make me happy. There's something about that fruity taste that just always lifts up my spirits because it reminds me of my wonderful childhood. It's really simple to make and so delicious.
I tweaked an old family recipe. I added some thyme smothered it with mascarpone & honey frosting and topped off with figs, because figs, enough said.
Unlike most of my bakes and recipes, this cake not really one that can be pinpointed to a specific time and place. All I can say is that olive oil cakes are incredibly common in Spain. It would then be safe to say that somewhere in Spain was where this recipe came from. I’m afraid that is as historical as I’m going to get with this recipe.
That being said, I can tell you how fragrant and delicate this incredibly moist cake is, it's not too sweet, it's citrusy and floral.
Feed this cake to anyone, and I assure you they will be puzzled by an all too familiar nutty and fruity taste that they can’t seem to put their finger on.
For me, the key to this cake is to use the best quality olive oil you can. I always go for extra virgin, unfiltered oil preferably made out of “picual” or “arbequina” olives, and of course, only made in Spain. Because who are we kidding, Spaniards have been making the best olive oil in the Mediterranean since the Phoenician merchants introduced the olive tree into the Iberian peninsula around the year 1200 BC. This is not be being biased but truthful.
While I’m at it I'll also throw this little fun fact your way as well. The Phoenicians also introduced the grapevine and pork into the Iberian peninsula around the same time. That means that Spain actually has a wine culture that is over a millennia older than France's. Just saying.
And on that note I will leave with my Olive oil cake & honey mascarpone frosting recipe.