Frankencake and Olive Oil

What’s your everyday super power?

Some people are freakishly impressively double jointed. Super smelling powers. Bat hearing. Knowing if it’s going to rain before it does.

I consider wine tasting a super power. Being able to taste the difference between a Riesling and Chardonnay or a Tempranillo and Malbec is a marvel to me. I can’t do it. I either know that I like it, or it’s going in the spit bucket.

While I can’t tell my wines apart, I know my olive oils. Maybe I learned a thing or two from growing up surrounded by Italians? The kinds of olives, where they’re grown from, the pressing methods, all result in a different delicious flavour; I loved doing tastings with the oils mum would bring home from the markets.

Bertolli very kindly sent me some of their excellent everyday olive oils to have a play with. In their range is an Extra Light oil, which is really delicate in flavour and perfect for baking and in a heartbeat I knew what had to happen.

Yes, cake. How did you know, you clever thing?

I had spotted a couple of cakes on Pinterest that I was dying to try, and set about picking the best parts of them all, and smushing them together. Kind of like Frankenstein’s monster, but in cake form, if you will. It did not go according to plan.

I dreamed of whole pears in an olive oil cake. Now, there’s a reason why you don’t see whole pears baked into cake very often. The juice from the pears seeps out into the cake, making it very soft if you don’t have a firm cake, which this one isn’t. It does however, make for possibly the moistest, most melty cake you’ll ever have.

What I expected to be my biggest disaster, turned out to be one of my biggest successes. Who knew?

Whole Poached Pear Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking and cioccolatogatto

4 pears, peeled
750ml white wine
150g caster sugar
1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup caster white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup Bertolli Extra Light or extra virgin olive oil, but not too strong of taste
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs

Flaked almonds
Icing sugar

To poach the pears, in a large saucepan add the wine, sugar, juice and lemon halves, and the vanilla bean, split down the middle and scraped. You’ll need enough liquid to cover the pears, so if you have to add 100ml of water, that’s ok.

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Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down low, cover and leave to simmer for 40 minutes, or until the pears are tender.

Leave the pears to cool in the liquid, then refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 175*c.

Combine the dry ingredients completely in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients, and whisk together until combined.

Rub the inside of a spring form cake tin with butter. Lots of butter. Sprinkle the sides with flaked almonds, pressing gently to help them stick. Quickly pour in the cake batter, then place the pears evenly around the edge.

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Bake for 45 minutes (although mine took probably an hour – just check it frequently). The cake should come away from the edge of the pan slightly.

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Leave to cool slightly in the pan, then completely on a wire rack. Once cool, dust with with icing sugar, and serve with cream. Or custard. Or this, because I feel like this would be a good idea.

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When your cake rises and then sinks like the Titanic, don’t panic. Mine did too. It looks rustic, which is what you want, right? Shhhh. Just go with it.

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