I think I've just made my favorite cake! My first bake for 2020!
This was inspired by my torta, a modern cake on a cake traditionally made with lard, and a Spanish magdalena. I've been wanting to bake a magdalena ever since I saw it but it's only this time that I had the courage to try it, knowing how expensive olive oil can be and how I do not like it when I first tried it. The use of olive oil in it was so intriguing and interesting.
Knowing that most of the flavor will come from the olive oil, I made sure to use a high quality extra virgin Spanish olive oil. An arbequina was the choice for most magdalenas because of its sweet, fruity, and delicate flavor. I used something stronger so the flavor will shine through the cakes.
I used an olive oil made from a blend of picual (bitter and spicy) and hojiblanca (grassy and bitter). I tasted the oil straight up and it has a fruity smell reminiscent of banana. It enters the palate smooth and sweet, followed by peppery notes, then a slight bitterness on the sides of the tongue and a spicy finish at the back of the throat.
In addition to flour, milk, eggs, salt, sugar, and olive oil, I flavored it with a local orange. What pairing is more classic than olive oil and citrus, most magdalenas are flavored with lemon zest. Our local orange has an intense unique fragrance not even close to lime, lemon, or classic orange. Compared to orange, the aroma is more mabagsik (sorry, I can't think of direct translation, intense? fierce?); I once candied it and the peels were still extremely bitter after three times of blanching. Even just the green rind, without the pit, it is already bitter. The skin was also very thin that it is difficult to get only the green zest without the bitter white pith. With its intensity, I only needed a small amount to perfume the cake, just a quarter teaspoon.
I never thought that sourdough would make a cake like this. I had a couple of more torta experiments (that I still have second thoughts of posting) before this and this is by far the best in terms of texture and flavor. This cake was purely raised by sourdough, no chemical or mechanical leavening. In my honest opinion, it was lighter, fluffier and more delicate that a traditional pound cake (that is, the one that is raised purely by air trapped in the batter during creaming).
Sorry for the weird angle! I just love how smooth and fine the sides of the cake are.
The cake had a very lovely flavor. The olive oil added an interesting savory note, if I did not know that there was olive oil, or if I were not familiar with it; I will be hard pressed to pinpoint were that flavor comes from. It tastes buttery despite the cake being made solely with olive oil. It has nutty note too that if I also didn't know, I would think that there were almonds in it, probably due to the hojiblanca.
Like a classic olive oil cake, it has a thin crispy shell at the top and an interior so moist almost to the point of being custardy. After a day, the crust turned shiny and soft and the crumb became moister and the flavor also developed to becoming more balanced and harmonious. This is a cake that really benefits with age.
If there is one word this cake is all about, it is subtlety. Subtly tangy, subtly sweet, subtly savory, subtly buttery, subtly nutty, subtly citrusy. This would go great with tea rather than coffee due to the delicate flavors.Earl grey if you want a tie of flavors; black tea for a classic palate cleanse between bites; or if you want something herby, tarragon tea will be nice.
I just love those sunlit photos! They have a more organic and mysterious feel. It feels as if I was really in the Mediterranean!
You can see in this photo the delicate and crispy top crust.
In a made-up history, during Spanish times it was a celebrated dish found only on the tables of the wealthy as only the upper class can afford excellent olive oil from the Mediterranean.
I became a litttle bit generous with the olive oil in the two molds and the oil floated on top of the batter. What a lovely pattern it created! Looks like a sunflower enhanced by the sunlight.
I have never tasted a cake as sophisticated as this!
I hope you enjoyed this olive oil cake. Until next time, thanks!