But the other day at H-E-B, there was this bag that contained a whole, perfect red grape cluster. It was beautiful. There were no broken stems or numerous little bunches of grapes stuck in the bag. There were no loose, over-ripe grapes rolling around being smashed in the bottom. In my head, something that pretty just had to taste good. Wrong!
So then the problem became of what to do with all those grapes. I didn’t want to just throw them out for the ’coon to munch on. I didn’t want to put them in a fruit salad as they would add no flavor to the rest of the fruit. So I went to the computer, typed in “grape recipes” and all these recipes for grape cake popped up.
I’ve never tasted a grape cake before. Seems they are very popular in areas of Italy with vineyards. What was also unusual is that the cake is made with olive oil. I’ve never used olive oil in baking before, have you?
So with these two unusual ingredients, I had to give it a try. I looked around for a recipe that had just the basics as I didn’t want to have to get dressed and run to the store. I made a few changes in the recipe for my taste. So what came out is a very simple cake with a smooth, tight crumb that I think is just delicious.
The grapes add just a hint of fruit. The cake does not crumble. It isn’t overly sweet and doesn’t need any sticky sweet icing. I’d call it a snacking cake as you don’t even need a plate or fork to eat it. I tried it warm from the oven with butter and that was good. But my second piece was plain and at room temperature and I liked it best that way. My third piece at 4:30 a.m. with a glass of cold milk was also delicious.
(Don’t expect a big cake. This makes a single layer about 1½ inches tall. It is very important to have your milk, eggs, and butter at room temperature before starting this recipe.
• ½ stick butter (plus extra for pan), softened
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• zest of one orange
• 1½ cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
• ¾ tsp. baking powder
• ¼ tsp. kosher salt
• ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
• 1 heaping cup of fresh, seedless red grapes, stemmed, washed, dried, and halved
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round spring form pan (or glass baking dish) with the extra softened butter.
• Beat together the butter and sugar until well mixed.
• Add the eggs and beat about 5-8 minutes, until they lighten in color.
• Add the orange zest when you have it ready.
• Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined.
• Measure both the milk and olive oil in a glass measuring cup.
• Whisk together with a fork before adding to the batter in a steady stream.
• Toss the cut up grapes in the remaining tablespoon of flour.
• Add to the batter and stir only enough to blend.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
• Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The edges of the cake will be lightly browned and the top golden.
• Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-7 minutes.
• Detach the outside rim of the spring form pan and cool until ready to serve.
Cook’s notes: I took the butter, eggs and ½-cup milk out of the refrigerator about 30-45 minutes before I started cooking.
Of course, my house is always cold, so it may not take that long to bring the ingredients to room-temperature in a warm house. I used a stand mixer and let it run while I was preparing the grapes and orange zest. I used the spring form pan as it is so much easier to cut the cake in perfect wedges when finished. I baked mine the full 45 minutes and it was perfect.
I’m excited to find a cake using olive oil as all those other man-made vegetable oils just aren’t good for us. There is no olive oil taste in this cake what so ever.
Reminder: When choosing which milk and butter to buy, please consider buying the brands that do use milk from cows that have been given growth hormones. That can’t be good for us. Look for the stickers that say hormone-free.
I like Oak Farms milk which you can get at The Tote or Dollar General. One of the lines of milk at H-E-B also say hormone-free as does Promised Land from Floresville. I also like the Challenge brand of butter as it is made with hormone-free cream.