Sunday, February 23, 2014

Low Carb Olive Oil Cake

I maintain that eating healthy should never feel like punishment.  It's not a time-out for bad behavior so it should never feel like one.  I am obstinate in my belief that food should always be a celebration as it is whole.  Since I started limiting sugar and most carbs from my diet months ago, the toughest course every meal is dessert.  You can fake rice with whizzed up cauliflower, pasta noodles with shredded zucchini.  But cookies and cake?  I pretty much abandoned that idea.  Ice cream?  Just toss THAT idea altogether.  After failed attempts at "cornbread" this and almond butter "cookie" that, I was pretty much convinced that dessert is pretty much a goner for this type of diet.  In all bluntness, they tasted like cardboard.  They felt like punishment.

My source for these fake dessert recipes was some paleo websites.  Most of them called for maple syrup, honey or agave, which in a more restrictive diet like mine, sugar in any shape or form is just not acceptable.  But an unusual source of great low carb meals opened itself up to me - The New York Times Food Section.  If you're a cerebral foodie, you would appreciate that it is a veritable (and journalistic!) source for restaurant recommendations and reviews.  In the recent months, I've discovered that it also is a virtual recipe box.  The unique thing about the recipes I find there is that they are written by chefs and/or gourmands and are NOT meant to be low carb recipes.  They are amazing recipes that just happened to be low carb.

Here's an Olive Oil Cake recipe that appeared on the January 9th Food Section of the NY Times.  It is what I've been missing from paleo recipes.  For one, it is delicious.  Actually, it is very good.  The cake is evenly moist and the citrus zest gives it an unexpected depth.  It doesn't call for flour, just almond meal, which you could find at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  I love this cake a lot because it behaves like a real cake, not like a pseudo dessert loaded with pretense.  I like slathering a really thin layer of Bonne Maman orange marmalade and with coffee - it is superb!  You can whip up your own whipped cream to top the cake.  Either way, it's guilt-free!

Here's the recipe adapted from the New York Times article, "A Chef in the Field: Olive Oil".  I'm not sure if you need a subscription to access the link (I have one), but you can read the article here.

Olive Oil Cake
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 100 grams stevia, NOT Truvia.  Now I'm not an expert on sugar substitutes, but stevia is a plant derived sweetener that has 0% carbs and 0% sugar.  It is processed because it comes in powdered form, but my personal take is that it's the best alternative to sugar I've found. I don't use it any other time than when I made this cake. 
  • 150 grams almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder. Yes, carbs.  But it's 1 teaspoon so get over it.  
1. In a medium bowl, combine the 1 cup of olive oil, eggs and citrus zests. Whisk until the egg yolks are incorporated.
2. In a separate large bowl, combine the stevia, almond flour, and baking powder.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
4. Grease the cast iron pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Pour the cake batter into the greased pan, and place it in a cold oven.
6. Turn the oven on, set to 350 degrees.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. To check if done, insert a toothpick or knife tip into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, remove cake from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

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