I never cooked before moving to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In the three months since I've arrived, I've discovered beans are the best, eggs are not as easy as people say, and recipes are cool.
I've made three things following a recipe: A BA chocolate cookie recipe (too fatty), buttermilk pancakes (like I said...I'm an extreme beginner), and my favorite cake in the world: Cagla's Olive Oil Cake.
Cagla Onal is a friend and the owner of Green Almond Pantry. We met when she was the head chef at Etto and I was working front of house. Anyone who has ever worked with her knows that she's the queen of mid-shift snacks, makes the best family meals, and would probably give a friend her entire life savings if they asked her for it. If 2020 was a year of disappointment and frustration, I firmly believe this year will be better, and am sending every positive vibe in my body towards Cagla so that Green Almond can find a new location and re-open soon.
This recipe came from Cagla via text and is top secret! (I also added my own notes.) She approved it for the newsletter as a small gift for everyone, and if you would like to support her or send gratitude, the best way is through a gift card online. Please credit @greenalmondpantry and help me by sending her lots of love (and perhaps fame and fortune) this year!
Olive Oil Cake by Cagla Onal
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 110 gram corn flour: I used Star Route Farms Otto File Polenta
- 120 gram olive oil: Combined a couple...no idea if this was good or bad. Some fancy Italian and some Kalamata Greek oil
- 3 eggs (separated)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- zest of 2 lemons (or oranges): I used cara cara zest, but had to use a potato peeler & knife combo in lieu of a zester
- Vanilla: Re-reading this, realized I forgot this, oops, next time
- Olive oil the pan, dust with sugar (or corn flour), and set aside
- Mix the zest with the sugar and set aside
- Mix flour and baking powder
- Whip egg whites (firm white) and set aside: I needed an assistant to help out for a bit...it was more difficult than anticipated, a nice pre-dessert workout
- Mix sugar and egg yolks about 3 min or until a well-mixed pale-yellow color
- Add olive oil slowly (like making mayonnaise): Never made mayonnaise, but I just added it bit by bit while whisking
- Add dry ingredients: I switched from a whisk to a spoon at this point, I'm never sure what tools to use to 'mix,' but a soup spoon seems to do the trick
- At the end, fold in the whites, first 1/3 and then the rest: Mine was kinda streaky and I decided to phone a friend...a little streaky is good
- Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 mins and check for doneness; do another 5 mins or a little more if needed
- If making with fruit it takes way longer: Cagla put the fruits in the pan with a little sugar (no corn flour to the pan); this takes about 25-35 mins depending on the fruit
*I didn't use parchment paper or a springform pan...but later discovered that these would be helpful; let it sit for a minute or two and flip when coolish
I made the cake on a late Sunday afternoon and sipped on Mont Sainte-Victoire Houblon while baking. It was serendipitously a brilliant pairing! The beer is from one of my favorite breweries, The Referend Bier Blendery in New Jersey, which specializes in wild fermented beers that are imaginative and creative in their use of fruit and local produce. This bottling is as close as brewer James Priest gets to a simple saison: tart, crisp, and refreshing. The beer has lime zest that plays wonderfully with the delicate cara cara in the cake and makes it more apparent. The richness of the olive oil was even more opulent with the crisp bubbles of the beer. Both the cake and beer highlight delicate and nuanced ingredients like otto file polenta or Azacca hops. Overall, it was a playful pairing that shared the stage wonderfully. The Berliner Messe is a great substitute if you want to try this out at home.