With their powers combined, strawberries, pistachios and olive oil make for one splendid cake
One of the joys of cooking is discovering new ingredients. Put me in a spice store or international grocery, and I am like a kid in a candy shop. (That's still a thing, right?) But there are also plenty of genuine discoveries to make when ingredients you know and love are combined in a way you've never encountered.
Such was the case with this Strawberry and Pistachio Olive Oil Cake. I came across it in BBC Good Food magazine, a lovely publication I read when I can because it satisfies my interest in both food and all things British. The recipe caught my eye because of the trifecta of title ingredients, all of which I adore. I was pretty sure I had never had all three together, and if I had, it was not in anything like this.
Also intriguing: The cake is gluten-free and quick to come together in a single bowl, after you've ground the pistachios in a food processor, anyway. Because the batter is so reliant on nuts (cornmeal also helps keep it gluten-free), a little extra care is required. Nuts tend to burn easily, so I found it necessary to cover the cake partway through cooking to keep it from getting too dark and bitter. Similarly, you want to make sure you don't overbake the cake, as it is delicate and crumbly. Don't just rely on the baking time I've included in the recipe. Ovens vary, so use the visual and textural cues to ensure you pull the cake out of the oven at just the right time.
If you do, you'll be rewarded with a very tender, aromatic cake that would be right at home with a cup of tea or coffee. I recommend you consider serving it with creme fraiche or yogurt and extra strawberries, not only for presentation's sake, but to tie all the flavors together. And, yes, the dollop of dairy helps hold together all those nutty bits, because you will want every last crumb.
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STRAWBERRY AND PISTACHIO OLIVE OIL CAKE
Active: 30 minutes | Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
10 to 12 servings (makes one 9-inch cake)
When you want a cake that's not overly sweet, this delicate, gluten-free treat is an elegant answer. It's also dairy-free and comes together in a single bowl.
Serve with creme fraiche or yogurt and extra strawberries.
You'll need a 9-inch round cake pan.
Make Ahead: The baked cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Where to Buy: We've had the best luck finding shelled raw pistachios at Trader Joe's. They're also widely available online.
1-3/4 cups (225 grams) shelled raw pistachios
Scant 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/4 cups (150 grams) fine cornmeal or polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
7 ounces (200 grams) strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped, plus more for serving
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking oil spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Put about 1-1/2 cups (200 grams) of the pistachios in a food processor, and process until finely ground, about the consistency of almond meal.
Using a hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the olive oil, beating until thoroughly combined.
Gently fold in the ground pistachios, cornmeal or polenta, baking powder and salt. Fold in the strawberries, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spoon or offset spatula. Roughly chop the remaining [1/4] cup (25 grams) pistachios and scatter over the top.
Bake (middle rack) for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden and well-risen and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The sides of the cake will just be starting to pull away from the walls of the pan. If the top is darkening too fast before the cake is cooked through (nuts burn easily), loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil.
Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool to room temperature. Turn it out of the pan, then flip it so the top side is facing up again, and dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
(Adapted from a recipe on bbcgoodfood.com.)
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