Friday, September 23, 2016

Walnut Orange Olive Oil Cake with Greek Yogurt Buttercream

Normal.  It's funny word, I think.  So are the words routine and comfortable.  Not funny like make-you-laugh funny, obviously, but I think you know what I mean.  When you give it some time to really mull those words over you realize that you probably don't actually know what they mean.  And that your definitions is definitely not the same as the ones of the person right next to you.

 When I was younger comfort and routine meant having lots of friends and family around.  Knowing all the places and faces around me.  Knowing exactly what was expected of me and how I was to behave, think, act.  It was simple.  And for most people that doesn't change.  They stay close to home and family.  They find a life they love and not much changes from day to day.  That's what normal means.

These days my life feels anything but that.  No normal.  No routine.  No constants except for the friends afar.  It will eventually settle and my surroundings will feel more like home.  But right now it's the complete opposite.  And here's the thing- I'm the kind of person who's first instinct is to crave the comfortable.  I could easily cocoon myself in my house with my familiar belongings and routines and be perfectly okay with that.

Mostly.  There's still always a little nagging voice in the back of my head that tries to push me out of this comfort zone.  I just had a milestone birthday.  You know that big one every girl in the first half of her life dreads.  But I'm coming to realize that maybe it's not such a bad thing after all.  I might have learned a thing or two over the last 40 years (oops, let that one slip, didn't I?).  And with that smidge of wisdom comes that knowledge that I need to listen to that little nagging voice.  Because if I stretch a bit beyond what I feel comfortable with, I usually find out something new about myself.  And then my comfort zone gets just a little bit wider.  Which is pretty awesome.  All those new experiences make for a life that is so much richer.

So maybe normal for me ought to mean that there is no normal.  My life is certainly trying to tell me something along those lines.  Maybe in the next 40 years I'll learn how to embrace and enjoy the chaos.  Or perhaps it won't take quite that long.

Walnut Orange Olive Oil Cake with Greek Yogurt Buttercream

Makes one 9-inch cake, 8-10 servings.  Recipes adapted from Pots & Pans and Potlicker.
For the printable recipe, click here.

This is not a formal, layered birthday cake.  It's more simple but definitely more sophisticated.   I decided that I would treat myself and make this my first baking project in my new Greek kitchen.  And since I'm in Greece, what better way to celebrate than with some distinctly Greek flavors? The cake is a light olive oil and walnut based sponge with the added addition of orange zest and some white wine (fancy!).  It's not at all heavy or weighed down by the addition of the nuts.  Whipping the egg whites to make a sponge makes all the difference.  And the frosting is not all that different from a cream cheese frosting, I simply used Greek yogurt and honey to add a bit of tart and sweet ultra creaminess.  I really, really love the frosting.  Oh and you must use full fat yogurt for this recipe.  Lowfat just will not work or have the same flavor or feel as the full fat version.

For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, separated
zest of 1 medium orange
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc

figs and an orange for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a 9 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

In a food processor, blend the flour and walnuts until the walnuts are finely ground into the flour.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar on medium until the mixture has thickened and the color has paled.  Add in the orange zest and beat for just a moment.  Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is on and beat until the mixture thickens.  Stir in the wine.  Beat in the flour mixture on low just until incorporated.

In a separate very clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until the reach soft peaks.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whip until the peaks are stiff and glossy.

Using a spatula, scoop about 1/3 of the egg whites into the rest of the cake batter.  Gently stir until the egg whites are just mixed into the batter (your goal is to lighten the cake batter so that the rest of the egg whites are easier to incorporate).  Add the rest of the whites to the bowl and fold in with the spatula.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  The cake will be golden and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean (you can also check that the center of the cake is springy when lightly pressed with your finger).  Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Then loosen the edges with a knife and turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream.

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp honey
2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment place the butter, yogurt and honey.  Beat on medium speed until they are light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar in batches, beating on low between each addition.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the buttercream for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

When the cake is cool spread the buttercream over the top.  Garnish with quartered figs and orange slices, if desired.  The cake will keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

No comments:

Post a Comment