It’s a Brooklyn Thing

Well, we are two for two with baking times being totally off with cake recipes from The Mile End Cookbook. But, like the honey cake for Rosh Hashana, I’m still sharing this olive oil cake with you in time for Chanukah because the result was that delicious. It’s soft and fluffy and lemony. Pillowy, even.

olive oil cake

Lilli and I put this together when we got home tonight. The recipe, as written, says it should bake for about 40 minutes, and there’s something about a thermometer which I found useless since the cake was near-liquid 35 minutes in. In total, this took about 75 minutes to bake. While we waited, Lilli and I did some coloring and enjoyed some halva my mom gifted me for Chanukah. (Rich would like me to note that she’s not a chatty one, but actually said “halva” tonight in between popping sweet bites into her mouth. This is actually a really big deal considering she has yet to say her own name.) She was already asleep by the time the cake was cool enough to cut. Sorry about that, kiddo.

The authors describe this cake as not a “traditional Jewish thing, or even a Montreal thing. It’s a Brooklyn thing – it’s based on cakes you’ll find at some of the old Italian bakeries in Carroll Gardens…” They say the cake is still good for up to a week after it’s been made, but it would be a miracle if it lasted to the eighth day.

Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients

3 large eggs

Zest of one lemon

3 cups sugar

1 ½ cups olive oil (or substitute 1 cup canola oil and ½ cup olive oil)

1 ½ cups whole milk

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Powdered sugar, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh berries, and crème fraiche (optional), for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the eggs and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed for a few seconds. While the mixer is running, add 1 ¼ cups of the sugar and mix until it’s dissolved, 10 to 15 seconds. Keep the mixer running and add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Continue mixing for another minute, and then add the milk in a slow, steady stream. Mix for another few seconds.

Stop the mixer and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining 1 ¾ cups of sugar to the bowl; mix on low speed for a few seconds to bring the ingredients together, then on medium speed for about 3 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until you have a smooth and fairly thin batter.

Line a 12-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper trimmed to fit snugly in the bottom of the pan; grease the lined pan with a light film of oil or cooking spray. (I used a 12-inch spring-form pan for easy removal.)

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 75 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through cooking, until the top has split and become a deep golden brown and a thin metal insert comes out clean.

Let the cake cool, and then turn it out onto a serving plate. Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar and drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil, and serve with fresh berries and crème fraiche, if you like.

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For the Kids

Ever watch Gilmore Girls? If you read my blog, the answer is probably yes. Do you remember the episode where Lorelai and Sookie decide to do small, private parties, complete with catering by Sookie? They’re charged with planning a kid’s birthday party, and Lorelai gives Sookie explicit instructions to do mac and cheese and pizza and all sorts of kid-friendly foods, and Sookie makes jalapeno mac and cheese and all sorts of adult foods, and it’s a complete disaster?

Lilli in the Yard

We nearly had a similar incident at a brunch we hosted on Sunday. I should make it clear that the meal wasn’t a disaster, and everything worked out in the end, but only because Rich played the role of Lorelai to my Sookie. We hosted a friend from college and his family. His daughter Sara is about four, and his son Alex is just a touch younger than Lilli. I was thrilled at the chance to set up a Sunday morning spread and was quite pleased when I reviewed the menu with Rich on Saturday night: Broccoli frittata, a salad of greens topped with maple roasted pears, walnuts and blue cheese, with a brown sugar vinaigrette, breakfast potatoes, hummus and crackers. (There was also a pumpkin bread that I forgot to serve, so we’ve been working on that during breakfasts this week.)

“Waffles. You need to serve waffles for the kids,” Rich responded after my menu review. Annoyed, but in agreement that he was probably onto something, I got out Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book, his birthday gift from a few years ago. We’ve done the waffles before, and thought they were really great. They’re a yeasted waffle that’s done overnight, so it take a bit of planning.

Turns out Rich made the right call, and little Alex went nuts for them. He loved them so much when they left he was holding an entire one in his hand for their road trip back to Philadelphia. His dad wrote me this afternoon for the recipe, which reminded me it was time to share it with you guys.

As Cunningham explains, the recipe is from an early Fannie Farmer cookbook, and “is still the best waffle I know. The mixing is done the night before and all you have to do in the morning is add a couple of eggs and some baking soda. These waffles are very crisp on the outside and delicate on the inside.”

Raised Waffles from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

Ingredients

½ cup warm water

1 package dry yeast

2 cups milk, warmed

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Use a rather large mixing bowl – the batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and blended. (Cunningham often uses a hand-rotary beater to get rid of the lumps.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs, add the baking soda, and stir until well mixed. The batter will be very thin. Pour about ½ to ¾ cup batter into a very hot waffle iron. Bake the waffles until they are golden and crisp.

This batter will keep well for several days in the refrigerator.