Friday, May 22, 2009

Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake with Peaches in Honey Lemon Syrup

Fresh peaches have arrived! The first sighting for me turns out to be California peaches that are small and fragrant with a deep crimson blush. Beautiful.

Since I always like to enjoy the season’s first tasting with minimal preparation, I served them sliced with skins on and bathed in a light honey lemon syrup, cozily nestled on a slice of Alice Medrich’s deliciously fragrant Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake. This is quintessential Mediterranean and northern California fare that seems a perfect way to ring in the new season of gorgeously plump and juicy fruit. Simple, flavorful and full of the colors you’d see in a Cezanne.

The cake has a dense tight crumb but is fairly light for a pound cake due to the substitution of olive oil for butter. The flavor is of course also considerably different thanks to the luscious scent of cold-pressed olives and the unique characteristics of amontillado sherry. The orange zest bridges the two and rounds out the different notes. Although wonderful all by it self, it’s especially fabulous with these fresh peaches. As the cake bakes, you’ll be surrounded with a dazzling aroma that will easily take you to the shores of Barcelona or the vineyards of Napa’s Silverado Trail. Dreamy.

Bench notes:
- Use an olive oil that is extra virgin and full of flavor. The sherry should be amontillado, which is in between a fino (darker) and an oloroso (lighter). It is often served with olives or cheese, nuts and dried fruit. It has a nutty, yeasty flavor with a hint of lemon. I used a dry Lustau Los Arcos.
- The cake definitely improves when allowed to sit for a day. The flavors mingle and mellow together and are much more integrated. After it cools completely, wrap in an airtight container and give it some time.
- This cake would also go well with apricots, nectarines, plums, pears or roasted dates or Noyau Ice Cream.

Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake with Peaches in Honey Lemon Syrup

Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake

adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
makes 2 loaves

3 C flour
2 t baking powder
1⁄4 t salt
2 C sugar
1 C flavorful extra virgin olive oil
2 t grated orange zest
5 cold eggs
1 C amontillado sherry

Prepare two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pans with oil and a wide strip of parchment paper, leaving an inch or two hanging over the longer sides of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk the sugar, oil and orange zest on high speed until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. When all the eggs have been incorporated, beat until the mixture is thick and pale, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add one-third of the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until blended. Add half of the sherry and mix just until blended. Repeat with another third of the flour, followed by the remaining sherry and then the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean with a few moist crumbs, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes. Gently lift the cakes up by the overhanging parchment paper and cool completely.

Wrapped airtight, the cake stores well at room temperature for about 3 days.

Peaches in Honey Lemon Syrup

6 small ripe peaches
1/4 C mild honey
3 T water
1 – 2 t fresh lemon juice, to taste

Place the honey and water in a saucepan and warm over low heat until dissolved and blended. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice to taste.

Slice the peaches and toss with the honey lemon syrup.


pietra said...

Wow, I am making this today, thanks.

Y said...

Those peaches look beautiful. I was just looking at the olive oil cake recipe yesterday - so tempting to make it!

Bryan said...

i love Sherry. which is only a little embarrassing because my friends still think of it as a grandmother's drink.

this is an awesome way to incorporate it into dessert.
cant wait to try this.

Victoria said...

This looks wonderful. (I love Pure Dessert and give it as a present very often.)

I just got to the country for the weekend and cannot believe my luck.

In addition to Tio Pepe, I actually have Amontillado sherry. I won't find gorgeous peaches, but I will make the cake anyway.


Bunny said...

Your description of the cake is lovely. That alone makes me want to make it. The peaches are magnificent!!

Anonymous said...

You have first peaches, I just have first peach blossoms. Sigh.

pastry studio said...

Pietra and Victoria, I hope you enjoy the cake. Taste on the second day and see if you don't agree that it really benefits from snoozing quietly in a corner for a bit.

GooberNGrape, I know! I almost didn't post this because I know people think of Sherry as old fogey kind of thing. Same thing with prunes. I'm going to have to find the nerve to post a prune pastry some day. So delicious.

Anonymous, let's hope your blossoms will give way soon. It seems the season here is late. I'm hoping for my favorite apricots and figs SOON!

gooberngrape said...

sorry, off-topic, but i know what you mean about prunes!
(how many jokes did i hear about the dreaded "prune danish" at coffee hour before church? thousands, because no one liked it.)

but now i thank Zuni for inspiring me to use them with flavors like tea and citrus, red wine, Armagnac, or (Summer!) lavender.

finally, wonderful adult flavors and textures.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

cake looks so moist and it must smell like heaven!

Juliana said...

WOW, they all look great...I haven't had pound cake for a while...your looks and sound terrific with sherry...yummie. And the peaches with the lemon honey syrup...really great. You have nice pictures.

Bryan said...

getting ready to make this.
so at the risk of over-posting:
can you speak to the reason for cold eggs?

pastry studio said...

Hey, GooberNgrape, I think the reason for the cold eggs is that, exactly opposite of a butter cake, the cold eggs will hold the emulsion with the olive oil.

Three block media said...

Just lovely. I like how the colors blend.