Olive Oil Cake

There's a magic potion that we keep in our house. A potion with uses in many arenas from the bathroom to the kitchen (and some would say the bedroom; but I wouldn't listen to those guys). It can nourish, add complexity and add flavour without too much trouble. It can revitalise and it can heal and it tastes great! Of course this elixir is non-other than the much-valued and much-utilised olive oil. A commodity that has been used for thousands of years in the Levant, it is older than Lebanon itself. The best way I could describe the value of olive oil to Lebanese people is that it holds the same place in our hearts that butter does to the French. With the added caveat that olive oil is the broody, more complex older brother to butter - it adds something completely different to dishes and well...it's good for you. I love olive oil in all sorts of recipes but something that has been on my mind lately has been its use in desserts - on ice cream, in biscuits and in cakes. This recipe is ridiculously simple and the olive oil taste subtle. It is a great introduction to the use of olive oil in sweets but complex enough for those who love a good olive oil cake. The olive oil 'buttercream' is rich and decadent and elevates this dessert but you should use it sparingly! Anyway, here is the recipe...

125ml great quality extra-virgin olive oil
300g icing sugar
300g self-raising extra-fine flour
Zest and juice of 2 clementines (or 1 orange) and 1 lemon
3 medium free-range eggs
100ml milk

Olive 'Buttercream'
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons of icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease and line a large cake tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the olive oil and beat rapidly. Add the zest and juice of the citrus fruits. Add the milk and whisk again. Sift the flour into the mixture in three parts, folding in after ever third of flour. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Pour into cake tin and cook for 45 minutes until browned and then turn down the heat to 160C and cook for a further 10 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre yields a 'dry' crumb. Cool in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack. To make the olive 'buttercream' mix the icing sugar into the olive oil and it should form a thick pasta akin to buttercream. The flavour is intense so you only need one 'quenelle' of the stuff per slice in my estimations. Slice the cake and serve with the 'buttercream'.