Olive Oil Cake with Red Wine Glaze

In the last post, I told you about a cooking class I took with Jennifer Abadi at Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. She introduced this olive oil cake, which has it’s roots in the Mediterranean. Her specialty, like mine is to teach and write about dishes from the Silk Road. Jennifer’s predominant focus is on Syrian cooking. Mine is Central Asia. In any event, all countries along the Silk Road have influenced each other in one way or another. The traveling caravans, not only passed through the countries, but picked up a dish and morphed it. Much like the game of telephone…. you say a message and then some where along the line, the message has completely changed, but maybe a word here and there has remained. Same holds true for this cake. As cake moved to Europe, butter became the fat and flavor of the cake, probably because olive oil was virtually non existent.

You might think, a cake is a cake. Flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Presto! Typically when we think of cake, we think of butter, but here the olive oil is used for fat which is pretty standard in the Medditerenean. Much better and healthier than butter, and yet it also gives it a rustic flair. This cake has a slight crunch at the edges, like a beloved one at a nearby coffee shop. And above all else, it has lemon zest for flavor and red wine which needs little in the way of a supporting cast.But I know, you’re just here for the cake. And you should be, as it meets all of the aforementioned cake batter requirements, but gets a little pretty boost from the red wine. Wine and olive oil are wonderful together; they both have bitter undertones and fruity finishes and in this cake, you taste both things with each bite. 

Serves 8 to 10

For Glaze:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unrefined whole cane sugar
1 tablespoon red wine

For Cake:

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free flour
3/4 cup unrefined whole cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a standard loaf pan.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl combine all 3 glaze ingredients and mix well. Set aside to
prepare batter for cake.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine baking powder, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and mix well.
4. Add the lemon zest and mix again.
5. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the olive oil, eggs, water and red wine
(optional). Add to the dry mixture above, and mix well until it becomes a smooth batter.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Place the pan on the center rack of the preheated
oven and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Gently pull the rack out just enough to pour the glaze over the entire top of the cake.
Carefully slide the cake back into the oven and bake an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or
until a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean (time will depend upon the heat
of your oven and size of your pan).
8. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before inverting the pan and
dislodging the cake. Turn cake upright and sprinkle with additional sugar if desired.

Gluten Free Autumn Honey Cake

This past week was the beginning of the Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashana. The holiday signifies the creation of the human world some 5772 years ago.
A traditional way to bring on the New Year is to celebrate with sweet edible things on the table, to symbolically express their wishes for a Sweet New Year. It’s still not too late to make a honey cake for the New Year, since we are supposed to be eating sweet foods until Yom Kippur- this coming Friday. This recipe for Honey cake has been passed down through the generations with tones of cinnamon, allspice and clove, which are very grounding and homey during the New Year, when family gets together for the festival.
This honey cake is moist, soft and plush with a little crisp edge topped with almond slivers for an extra crunch. Another bonus with this cake is that it can be made up to a week in advance as it preserves really well. In fact, honey is a preserving agent and allows the spices to fully develop, so actually tastes better with time.

I find it so interesting that so many Jewish communities around the world have created their own signature sweet dishes for the Sweet New year. Among Askenazi Jews there is the custom to make a sweet noodle kugel and a sweet stuffed cabbage- just to name a few. So what are your traditional dishes that you make on Rosh Hashana?

Serves 2 (9-inch) loaf pans

3 ½ cups All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-cup vegetable oil
1-cup honey
1-cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1-cup raisins
½ cup almonds, slivered
¼ cup almonds, slivered for topping


               1    Preheat oven to 350°F
               2    In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice and clove.
               3    In a separate large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, gradually adding the sugar. Beat until thick and light in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in the oil, honey, coffee, orange juice,     lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest. The batter will be light and fluffy. Stir flour mixture slowly into batter. Fold in raisins and then mix in ½ cup almonds.
              4    Oil the two loaf pans and line bottom with waxed paper. Oil again and fill each pan with batter up to one inch from the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Carrot Cake (Gluten Free, Vegan)

The key ingredients to this cake are the cinnamon and ginger, which add a warm welcoming spicy flavor. Especially delightful when served with vanilla ice cream, yoghurt or crème fraiche. This recipe is excerpted from Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book by John Ettinger and Bob’s Red Mill Family, 2007 and adapted into a gluten free and vegan version. The result is taste without compromise.
Serves 10
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups carrots, grated
¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced
½ cup crushed walnuts, optional 

1 Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish,

     2 In a large bowl, sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
     3 With a whisk, lightly beat together the oil and butter, then beat in the eggs. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and blend. Stir in the carrots, ginger and walnuts (optional).
     4 Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, check if not done, bake at 5 minute intervals until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a rack and cool.