This is a cake for Luella.
A few months ago now she wrote and asked for the recipe for this delicious cake we'd both made years ago - but I didn't know where I'd found it in the first place and I'd looked for the last couple of years through (literally) hundreds of old magazines and through my piles of torn-out pages - like a crazy woman looking for a cat who died years ago. And then, not so long ago, I found it. I'm so glad, because this cake is light and moist with a hint of the beautiful olive oil shining through - and, being a syrup cake, it keeps remarkably well for days.
Luella's email sat at the top of what had become a small pile of requests for recipes: ideas from my growing collection of books and clippings, recipes for things we'd all made once a week for a while years ago but since forgotten, and for things my family made that weren't written down anywhere. This was the last request I received before I decided to start this blog. So thanks Lulu for the inspiration: have some cake.x
Olive Oil, Mandarin and Dessert Wine Syrup Cake
From Gourmet Traveller 2004
½ cup olive oil
1 cup caster sugar
pinch of salt
finely grated rind of 2 mandarins
200g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
250g thick Greek yoghurt
about 6 Greek dried figs, halved widthway and stem removed
200ml dessert wine (like Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora)
150g caster sugar
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, olive oil and salt with an electric mixer until well combined. Add mandarin rind. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated and a little lighter.
Sift flour, almond meal and soda into a bowl. Add this to the oil, along with the yoghurt and fold to combine.
Transfer gently to tin, level top and bake 45 – 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. If the top looks like it may be getting too dark, cover with a circle of baking paper halfway through cooking.
For syrup, add wine and sugar to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil and simmer rapidly for 5 minutes.
Remove cake from oven and prick all over with a skewer or small knife. Pour half of hot syrup onto hot cake and allow to cool in tin. Put halved figs into remaining syrup and leave to cool.
Turn cake out and spoon remaining syrup over cake, arranging figs on top. Serve with thick cream.