For the past 10 days, I’ve been beaming with love for a new person in my life: my niece, Imogen. Baby Immy came into this world at 5:06pm on August 12th and ever since that minute, my life has changed. The love that I have for her is something I’ve never felt before and the moment I was able to finally hold her, I basically broke down sobbing - I would do anything for her and anything to keep her safe and happy. She has the longest legs, looks exactly like her daddy and loves going on walks around the neighborhood. Life before Immy was pretty boring.
I’ve been going back and forth to Los Angeles to see Immy and help out my sister and brother-in-law in any way I can. If your friend or relative has had a newborn baby, I have a list of some ways to go about in helping out the new parents. 1) bring over a bag of groceries - ask what they need so they won’t have duplicates but also surprise them with other grocery items that you’d think they’d like (bonus if you bring the mom a bouquet of flowers) 2) do the dishes or a load of laundry, and/or take out the trash - these things tend to add up rather quickly and if you notice that their sink, laundry hamper or trashcan is full, just jump on in and get to work, 3) simply hold/watch the baby - this allows mom and dad a moment to relax and perhaps go take a nap or shower and feel human again. Even if the parents are taking shifts, any moment that their brain can just relax and not be fixated on the baby is probably the most help you can give them, and 4) cook a meal for them or bring over a nourishing dish/snack - the parents won’t have much energy or time to be cooking healthy meals, so bringing them a meal that can easily be reheated at a later time will help tremendously. Besides the groceries that I had brought my sister, I also baked a batch of these granola bars which are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats, all things that breastfeeding mothers need.
Lastly, and most importantly, just go and hang out with the parents! Chances are, they are really bored from being cooped up at home and would love someone to talk to.
Alright, no more baby talk (for now).
I’ve spoken before on my l0ve for desserts made with olive oil and have even shared a few recipes highlighting it, like my olive oil brownie cookies and olive oil and maple granola. Besides desserts, I’d say that 99% of my meals are cooked with olive oil; I essentially only buy butter for baking and also because Alex enjoys cooking with it from time to time. So whenever I come across a dessert recipe that is made with olive oil, I’m much more intrigued to see what the outcome tastes like. Today’s recipe of a very simple olive oil cake with a hint of lemon is one of these desserts and it quickly became a tried and true recipe of mine.
Besides the amazing rich flavor and moist texture that this cake gets from the addition of olive oil, it is extremely easy to bake and all ingredients can easily be found in your kitchen (I have lemons in my fridge at all times because I drink lemon water every morning). There’s nothing fancy about this cake which is a huge reason as to why I love it. You can serve it with nothing on top (it’s that good) but if you’re wanting to add a little something to make it more beautiful, a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream should do the trick. Or, you can be like me and add a spoonful of saucy roasted blueberries. Not only does this add color to the cake but a little bit of tartness and sweetness. The whole process of making roasted blueberries takes less than 30 minutes (I’m including the time it takes to preheat the oven) and it definitely elevates the cake. If you don’t want to add the roasted blueberries to this cake, you can always save the recipe for another use like adding it to a cheesecake or a stack of waffles.
In the original recipe, the citrus used was actually the zest and juice of an orange, but since I already have an orange-centric cake on my site, I figured I’d go with lemon, especially since lemon and blueberries work so well together (the roasted blueberries also get a squeeze of lemon juice). But if you are partial to orange-flavored cakes, you can definitely swap it in, and maybe do roasted raspberries with a squeeze of orange juice instead! I haven’t tried this, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Simple Olive Oil Cake
Yields (1) 9-inch cake
Recipe adapted from Maialino Restaurant recipe via Food52
Cooking spray, olive oil, or butter (for the pan)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp. lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 milk, whole or 2% works
3 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan (in a pinch, you can use a 9-inch cake pan, but it may overflow) with cooking spray, olive oil, or butter.
In a medium size bowl, using your hands or a whisk, massage/mix the granulated sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant (this helps release the oils in the zest). Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
Whisk the wet ingredients (olive oil, milk, eggs and lemon juice) together a separate large bowl. To this, add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter (it will be very liquid-y) into the prepared springform pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top and sides of the cake will be a deep golden brown color.
Allow the cake to cool on a rack for 30 minutes before removing the springform pan piece, then let it cool for another hour or two before you slice in.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the blueberries either on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet or in a deep baking dish. I prefer the latter option because it is easier to collect all the juices post-roasting.
Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, taking the pan out once or twice to move the berries around to ensure even roasting. You want the berries to be in tact shape-wise but a good amount of their juices to be released (see picture above for reference). Once out of the oven, add the squeeze of lemon juice and gently mix the berries. Add a spoonful to each slice of olive oil cake or serve with waffles, pancakes, cheesecake, etc.!