Imagine a delicious dessert you can make in advance since it only gets better with age! This Portuguese treat from David Leite is what you are looking for…
This orange-olive oil cake was, without a doubt, the hardest recipe to develop in The New Portuguese Table. Cindi Kruth, one of my recipe testers, and I made 13 versions of it until I knew it was as good as the recipe I got at Papas, the tiny restaurant up the hill from my apartment in Lisbon. The problem was—and I have no idea if this was intentional (you know how some cooks can be)—but they gave me a recipe for a classic chiffon cake. Yet their mighty bolo de laranja was dense and rich, and just one slice could satisfy even my appetite.
Friend and Portuguese food scholar Janet Boileau was smitten with the orange-olive oil cake and also went to work trying to figure it out. In the end, it took a call to the wonderful Lisbon chef Fausto Airioldi to help me get a handle on the dessert. He agreed with me that this was no stinking chiffon cake. It was too full of the bold flavors of Portugal. So, that’s when Cindi and I started from scratch, literally. Several weeks later, we came up with this. And if you had a chance to stop by one of my book signings, you would have had a sample. It’s what I always serve, and people always ask for, when I’m fending off those huge lines of three and four fans.
Note: Make sure to use a light-colored Bundt pan. A dark one will turn out a cake that sticks and is unpleasantly brown. The pan I use is the Nordic Ware’s Anniversary 15-cup Bundt Pan. And since this orange-olive oil cake only gets better with age, don’t even think about taking a bite until the day after you make it, or even the day after that. —David Leite
Read Related: A Portuguese Dinner Party
ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE
Serves: 12 to 14
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Nonstick baking spray with flour
4 to 5 large navel oranges
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ TSP baking powder
1¾ TSP kosher salt
5 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1½ cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with baking spray and set aside.
- Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1½ cups of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1¼ hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.
- Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
This recipe first appeared in The New Portuguese Table by David Leite (Clarkson Potter, 2009) which is available for purchase here.
Learn more about David Leite.
Photo © 2009 Nuno Correia. All rights reserved.