Olive Oil Rosemary (Pound) Cake

Now here’s an interesting variation on the pound cake theme: an olive oil cake heavily dosed with rosemary, once again courtesy of Gina DePalma, pastry chef of Babbo in New York. It diverges from original pound cakes both in its choice of fat (oil instead of butter) as well as in the fact that it employs leavening. But other than that, how different is it really? Looking at the recipe you can see that like early pound cakes it’s a rather simple animal, essentially made from 4 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 2/3 cup olive oil and 1 1/2 cups of flour (plus leavening and flavoring).

Employing the handy Joe Pastry What Things Weigh chart to the right, we can see that this adds up to 7 ounces of egg, 5.25 ounces of sugar, 4.12 ounces of oil and 7.5 ounces of flour. Not exactly the 1-to-1-to-1-to-1 ratio of an old-style pound cake, but then not so terribly far off either. And anyway this is a very light item as pound cakes go. Very. It has a full tablespoon of baking powder in it, which is quite a lot of pop for one little loaf. The lightened load of oil and sugar helps it to achieve its extra height and almost bread-like consistency.

The original recipe calls for it to be served alongside braised figs and rosemary sorbet. Since I didn’t have either lying around this morning I went with the recommended backup accompaniment, orange marmalade. However I felt the bitterness of so much orange rind was just too challenging for such a fragrant cake. A drizzle of a nice light orange blossom honey on the other hand…NOW you’re cookin’ with gas! I think if I were to make a late afternoon snack out of this, I’d go whole-hog Italian and serve it as-is with a nice glass of red wine. Oh my yes, red wine…

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