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RECIPES > Jerusalem Olive Oil Cake with Orange Marmalade and Almonds

Show: A Baker’s Dozen

From Holiday Baking: New And Traditional Recipes for Wintertime Holidays, Chronicle Books 2005.

The Hanukkah story tells us that when the Jewish priests prepared to rededicate their temple, they could find only a day’s worth of purified olive oil to rekindle the menorah’s “eternal flame.” Even so, the flame burned for eight days and nights. Symbolic of the miracle at the heart of the Hanukkah tradition, olive oil has become an important ingredient in foods related to the holiday.

Typically, the oil is used to fry food during Hanukkah. In this recipe, however, we use it as an ingredient in a delicious citrus-scented holiday cake, which can be served as a coffee cake at breakfast or as a simple dessert after supper. (By the way, this baked delight is thoroughly ecumenical. In Spain, early convent kitchens made a similar cake at Christmas. It was split horizontally and filled with whipped cream sweetened with sugar and a dash of brandy.)

The olive oil in this cake makes it extra moist, and its flavor enlivens and accentuates the other ingredients. Be sure to use a fruity olive oil (put a drop on your finger and give it a taste test).

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest (from about 3 medium oranges)

1/4 to 1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds

2 tablespoons marmalade, warmed in the microwave

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease it lightly the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment or waxed paper. Grease it lightly the paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well blended, about 1 minute. Whisk in the olive oil, milk, and orange zest. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until thoroughly blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, scatter the almonds in a single layer on a small baking sheet or pan and toast in the oven until slightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

To serve, unmold the cake, remove the parchment paper, and place the cake on a flat serving plate. Using a pastry brush, coat the sides of the cake and a1-inch rim along the top with the warm marmalade, arranging any bits of peel along the rim. (If the marmalade is too thick, add 1/4 teaspoon warm water and stir.) Press the almonds onto the sticky top rim. Using a fine sieve, lightly dust the powdered sugar evenly over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.