Kitchen

Upside-Down Orange Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Citrus Cake | The Northwest Woman

Olive oil cake is a subtle dessert, and I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s not very flashy, it’s easy to make, and isn’t too sweet, which makes it a great after-dinner treat or even the perfect breakfast companion to a big cup of coffee.

I recently had a splendid run-in with this dessert. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver B.C., head to Ask for Luigi for dinner and get the olive oil cake (and a big plate of pasta.) I owe my friends Lisa & Elie a giant “thank you” for the amazing recommendation!

The simplicity of the olive oil cake I had at Ask for Luigi stuck with me for weeks, and put me in the baking mood. I had a small group of friends over for dinner recently, and decided to whip one up for the occasion, and layer on some citrusy-sweetness by making an upside-down orange olive oil cake. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Olive Oil Citrus Cake | The Northwest Woman

Upside-Down Orange Olive Oil Cake

Prep time: About 30 minutes

Bake time: 50 minutes

Equipment: 

  • Medium/large sauce pan
  • Cake pan (or a springform pan)
  • Whisk and spatula
  • Medium and large mixing bowls

Ingredients:

Citrus 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 orange, cut into thin, round slices, with the peels on.

Cake

  • 3 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

Start the citrus topping:

  1. Add the 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a medium/large saucepan. Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add your thin slices of orange to the mix, laying them out so they don’t overlap in the pan.
  3. Continue to cook the orange on medium heat. The sugar-water mix will start to bubble and cook down into a syrup.
  4. About 4 or 5 minutes into cooking, flip the orange slices over and continue to stir occasionally until the sugar-water mix is cooked down into an amber-colored syrup and the orange sliced start to darken and deepen in color.
  5. Remove the pan from heat.
  6. Using a fork, line the bottom of your cake pan or springform cake pan with the orange slices. I made a second layer of orange slices to fill in gaps along the top.
  7. Pour the syrup from the saucepan into the cake pan to top off the orange slices. Set aside.

Then start the cake mix:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar with 3 teaspoons of orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until it’s well combined. This will infuse the citrus flavor into the cake.
  2. Add the 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice and 3/4 cup plain yogurt to the sugar and whisk together.
  3. Mix in the 3 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: 1½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the larger bowl, slowly mixing it in until everything is combined.
  6. Fold in the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil using a spatula.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan to cover the orange bottom layer.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes, then allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Remove the cake from the pan to serve by flipping it upside down and carefully sliding it out using a spatula. 

Enjoy!

Photos by Matthew Land.

Gingerbread Cookies with Cointreau Icing

Gingerbread Cookies | The Northwest Woman

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking cookies. There’s something slightly meditative about mixing the ingredients together, slicing and cutting out shapes, and taking your time icing them or piling up the frosting on each cookie.

Gingerbread Cookies | The Northwest Woman

I have lots of distinct memories around Christmas cookies, but one of my favorites was at my aunt’s house with family for an early Christmas dinner. My aunt is a brilliant chef and baker, and I was helping her in the kitchen—she was teaching me how to make frosting from scratch—zesting an orange over the frosting mixture when she said, “You know what this needs? A little brandy!” With a giggle, she splashed a little into the bowl. It was so good. And thus the beginning of my love for mixing in a little booze, and a little orange, with my frosting.

Gingerbread Cookies | The Northwest Woman

I’ve made this gingerbread cookie recipe for the last two years, and it never fails! These cookies are crispy on the edges, and slightly chewy in the center. I love the spice of the gingerbread combined with the bright, citrus-flavored icing. Cointreau is an A+ addition to layer in the orange flavoring, and adding just a little something special to traditional gingerbread cookies. If you’re not familiar, Cointreau is a French liqueur made from a combination of sweet and bitter orange peels. It’s great in margaritas and cookie icing. I promise this post isn’t sponsored by Cointreau, I’m just a fan!

Gingerbread Cookies | The Northwest Woman

Gingerbread Cookies with Cointreau Icing

Yields about 2 dozen cookies

Prep time: 1 hour 10 – 20 minutes

Bake time: 8 minutes

Icing setting time: At least 2 hours

Equipment: 

  • Cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  • Whisk
  • Large and medium mixing bowls
  • Electric hand mixer or KitchenAid mixer
  • Plastic wrap for chilling the dough

Ingredients:

Gingerbread cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cointreau Icing

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau
  • 1 teaspoons orange zest
  • Orange zest for sprinkling

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer:

  1. Cream the stick of butter until fluffy.
  2. Add the 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Mix well until the texture becomes creamy.
  3. Slowly mix in the 3/4 cup molasses and the egg.

Then mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl:

  1. Whisk together the 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix:

  1. With the electric hand mixer on a slow speed, add the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients, about half of a cup at a time, until all the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure you get everything mixed in.
  2. Using your hands, form your dough into a flat disc and wrap it in plastic wrap.
  3. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or even overnight. Don’t skip this step!

Once the dough is chilled:

  1. Roll out your gingerbread dough, to about 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly-floured surface using a well-floured rolling pin. This dough tends to get a little sticky, so don’t be shy with the flour.
  2. Using cookie cutters, create the shapes you want and transfer them to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  3. You can take the scraps and form them back together to roll out more gingerbread cookies.
  4. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, rotating your cookie sheet at the 4 minute mark so your cookies bake evenly.
  5. Allow the gingerbread cookies to cool on a wire rack before you ice them.

Now for the icing:

  1. Whisk together the cup of confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of Cointreau.
  2. Continue to whisk until the icing is a thick liquid, forming a slow-dripping ribbon off your whisk.
  3. Transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle or icing bag for easy decorating, or spread onto the cooled cookies with a knife.
  4. Sprinkle a pinch of orange zest over each cookie while the icing is still wet.
  5. Let the icing set and firm up for at least 2 hours.

Enjoy!

Photos by Matthew Land.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Pumpkin Cheesecake | The Northwest Woman

Thanksgiving is a favorite of mine–it combines the company of the people I love with a generous spread of sweet and savory dishes. Autumn in general is an amazing time for food, in my opinion. Seriously, I could live on autumnal treats like squash, pomegranates, brussels sprouts, cider, and the ever-classic pumpkin pie.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake | The Northwest Woman

I made pumpkin cheesecake for the first time last fall, inspired by my love for the two classic desserts. After a few test runs and recipe tweaks, I landed on a slightly spicier recipe with a buttery, graham cracker and ginger crust and a velvety-smooth, slightly tangy pumpkin cheesecake top.

Pumpkin Cheesecake | The Northwest Woman

This dessert is so decadent, which makes it perfect for sharing with others! If you’re looking for a new take on a crowd-pleasing classic for a dinner party or Thanksgiving dinner, look no further.

Pumpkin Cheesecake | The Northwest Woman

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep time: 25 minutes

Bake time: 25 minutes

Cool time: 4 hours (or overnight)

Equipment: 

  • Springform cake pan
  • Large and medium mixing bowls
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Optional: Food processor or Vitamix

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup ginger thins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 4  tablespoons melted, unsalted butter

Cheesecake

  • 2 packets cream cheese (8 oz. each) at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Start by making the crust:

  1. Add the graham crackers and ginger thins to a food processor (I used my Vitamix) and pulse on low until they’ve broken down into small crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just crush the ginger thins and graham crackers in their wrappers with a rolling pin.
  2. Pour your graham cracker and ginger thin crumbs into a mixing bowl and add the 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir to combine.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and stir to combine. The final mix will look a little bit wet.
  4. Pour your mixture into the bottom of a springform cake pan and spread it evenly on the bottom, then pack the crust evenly along the sides of the pan and throughout the middle.
  5. Allow the crust to firm up in the fridge for 15 minutes before adding the cheesecake mixture.

Then start on the cheesecake:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the 2 packets of room-temperature cream cheese. Using the hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth and slightly fluffy.
  2. Add 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until incorporated.
  3. Add the 2 tablespoons heavy cream and continue to mix.
  4. Add the egg, then the 1/3 cup brown sugar, and continue to beat the mixture until everything is mixed together.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree to the mixture and beat until smooth.
  6. Pour your mixture into the springform pan, on top of the crust, spreading evenly.
  7. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Jiggle the pan slightly after 25 minutes–the pumpkin cheesecake is done when only the center jiggles a little–the edges of the cheesecake shouldn’t jiggle. Bake the cheesecake for increments of 2-5 minutes if it’s not quite done.
  8. When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and open the door of the oven. Let the cheesecake cool down gradually in the oven for an hour and a half, then move it to the fridge for at least 4 hours, or, preferably, overnight.

Bonus: Easy Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Add all ingredients to either a Vitamix or mixing bowl.
  2. Blend in the Vitamix on high for about 30 seconds, or using a hand mixer, whip the mixture until you start to see soft peaks in the whipping cream.
  3. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve!

 

Enjoy!

Photos by Matthew Land.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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