Anne Burrell’s Olive Oil Cake with Blueberries and Mascarpone
Gina Neely’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
I actually said Gina Neely in the same breath as the fabulously gifted Anne Burrell. Both made pretty rockin’ cakes this weekend on the Food Network’s Saturday lineup.
Anne Burrell’s was from her Spaghetti Carbonara show.
Anne learned how to make this cake while in cooking school in Italy. She begins by adding sugar to egg yolks. How much sugar? How many egg yolks…she doesn’t say. Anne beats her whites separately. How many? She won’t say. Oy, let me look! It’s ¾ cup of sugar and 5 yolks and SEVEN whites. That might have been worth mentioning.
She adds salt in her whites. NO! I know Ina does that and lots of other folks too. But, on this, I will have to go with Rose Levy Beranbaum, who after all, wrote The Bible on these matters. No salt with egg whites. It only dries them out.
Anne is going too fast. She zests a Meyer lemon over her egg yolk and sugar bowl. She describes it well as a lemon with the aroma of a tangerine. It’s actually a cross between a lemon and an orange. It looks like she has about a dozen egg yolks in there, but it’s only 7.
Anne beats the whites on the second speed of her KitchenAid and the yolks to ribbon-stage by hand. This is where a second mixer bowl could come in handy. She checks her whites by removing the beater and bowl from the stand. She dips the whisk straight into the whites to get some on the end of the whisk and then holds it over the bowl sideways. If the peaks keep their shape and don’t flop over, they are firm enough.
She thoroughly whisks in ¾ cup high quality olive oil and Vin Santo (or you can substitute sweet sherry) to the yolks. Anne stirs in one cup of flour and tells us we can make this in a regular cake pan, if we don’t have a spring-form one. She doesn’t tell us to be sure to line the cake pan with waxed paper or parchment, but be sure you do.
Anne folds her egg whites into the batter in 3 parts. I guess that’s her substitution for beating in a quarter of the whites at the beginning to lighten the mixture. I still would do that.
Anne is great at showing us the straight-in-and-over folding technique with the spatula and then showing us how to “draw lines” in the batter to “bust through” the egg whites. This is important.
You don’t want huge globs of egg white left in the batter. After folding for a bit, you hold the spatula straight down (as if you were inserting a skewer) and move it back and forth through the masses of whites almost in a scissoring motion. That breaks them down without deflating them.
Anne greases the pan with olive oil, which makes sense, since she’s using it in the cake. She lines the springform pan with parchment paper. How is THAT going to work? Unless she turns it over to remove the paper, you risk papery slices. So then why not just use a regular cake pan?
The batter goes into the pan and the cake gets baked at 350°F for 45 minutes…That was fast. She takes out the cake. It’s beautiful. Anne tests it with a skewer. It comes out clean, so it’s done.
For a topping, Anne rinses and goes through blueberries. They go in a pan with a cinnamon stick, sugar, ¼ cup water and the sieved juice of half a Meyer lemon. As she discards the lemon half in her garbage bowl (which bears no resemblance to this one), Anne smiles and says – to the lemon - “Thanks for coming.” She really is adorable.
The blueberries get cooked for 20 minutes. Oh, I don’t watch her enough to know that she says “Thanks for coming” to every ingredient that she’s finished wish. I love chef-to-food communication.
Anne unmolds the cake and reminds us that there’s paper on the bottom. (I still don’t get why. Just grease and flour it and it should be fine. BUT I ALWAYS line cake pans.)
The slice goes on a plate and she tops it with some berry compote. Luscious. She spoons a little mascarpone over in a quenelle shape. She practically inhales the cake. It’s pretty great and so is she.
But may I ask you a question? Would an olive oil cake ever - in a hundred years - be as good as one made with butter? This cake looks so darn good, but I’ll be honest, I kinda want to use butter. That would be sacrilegious, though, wouldn’t it?
I must have been born with butter running through my veins, so I just can’t help thinking that I would taste this cake and think, okay, but I’d prefer butter.
But what if I kept to the spirit of the cake and used OIL, (I LOVE my carrot and apple cakes with oil), just not olive oil?
Remember, that my olive oil comes straight from Spain and, while I do use it liberally, I never use it without thought.
How about safflower oil? I’m sure that’s against the entire spirit of the recipe and I’d be excommunicated from the church of Italian Food Aficionados. Is it possible that we sometimes just have to admit, “You know what? I’m just not sure I’d love that”? But I do love everything about the recipe…except the olive oil.
Strangely enough, I had no such dilemma with this Flourless Chocolate Cake from Gina Neely. Imagine her in the same post as Anne!!! But I think this recipe could become a standard in your kitchen…and mine.
Pat chops 8 oz. semisweet chocolate while Gina melts two stick of butter on the stove. He stirs the chopped chocolate into the butter.
Do you ever really bother with chopping the chocolate? I almost never do...I find it good fun to jab a fork right into the chocolate bar in the pan. Then I stir it around the bottom, mixing it with the melting butter as I go. Yup, THAT is truly what I do for fun.
Gina beats 1 of cup sugar and 6 eggs in a mixer until light and fluffy. Pat reminds us to continually stir the chocolate.
I’m also reminded of Ina’s trick. She holds back a bit of chopped chocolate and stirs it into the melted mixture off the heat to ensure that she doesn’t overheat it.
Gina whisks in ½ cup of cocoa, vanilla and 1/3 cup of brandy to the egg mixture. Pat’s deep blue polo shirt matches the deep blue mixing bowls that Gina was using earlier.
Gina lines her springform pan with parchment paper. Too? What’s going on here? Am I completely out of it?
THEN Gina sprays the pan with Pam. Never! Not with this cake. Butter and flour the pan properly. Pat pours the melted butter and chocolate into the batter and Gina mixes it together. Pat pours it into the lazily prepared pan. It bakes at 350°F for 50 minutes.
Gina tells us to have the bowl and beaters cold as she beats 1 cup of cream. See, Gina? You don’t need Cool Whip! She beats in ¼ cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of brandy. Gina cuts a piece, then tops it with the whipped cream and then some raspberries.
This is a really nice serviceable recipe and it would freeze beautifully too. You could also top it differently. How about chocolate whipped cream spread over the top and chocolate shavings to finish it off? Or a raspberry sauce with Grand Marnier garnished with rosettes of Grand Marnier-spiked whipped cream and fresh raspberries? Or top it with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Ooh la la! OR just a bit of powdered sugar. You could also cut it into rounds and make little individual cakes. Those trimmings would have to be disposed of somehow…I guess.
Anyway, Gina did good and I HAD to acknowledge it.