Spring is here, and the stand is overflowing with springtime bounty. We’ll be telling you about our peas, artichokes, asparagus, spring onions, and much, much more in future posts. But right now our thoughts are turning to: STRAWBERRIES. What better way to celebrate the vernal equinox than with these gorgeous, fragrant, and outrageously delicious fruits? Especially when we pair our strawberries not with the traditional shortbread, but with a yummy, easy to make, olive oil cake.
This year, we have three varieties of strawberries: the robust California strawberry, each berry a scrumptious mouthful; the beautiful Mara du Bois, whose heady perfume and delicate flavor evoke the very essence of strawberry; and a lovely new variety, Amandine -- smaller than the California strawberry but larger and firmer than the Mara du Bois -- whose sweetness hits like a starburst on the tongue. Serve any of these berries atop this cake (recipe below), and you will taste spring in each bite.
Our weekend popup store recently began featuring a very special olive oil that is now available all week at the stand. Séka Hills handcrafted olive oil is produced in the beautiful Capay Valley of northern California by the American Indian tribe known as the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation: in their native Patwin language, “séka” means blue. The Séka Hills farm is committed to sustainability, the conservation of their tribal lands, and the preservation of their culture and heritage. (You can read more about the farm here: http://www.sekahills.com.) Their oil, with its green and citrus overtones and peppery finish, is absolutely delicious in a salad dressing or drizzled over grilled vegetables –- but it also is the key ingredient in their recipe for this outstanding lemon and almond -- inflected cake. Serve this cake topped with our strawberries and bourbon-vanilla whipped cream, and raise your fork to springtime!
Olive Oil Cake Recipe
Courtesy of Emily Luchetti, April 2014
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup Greek plain full fat yogurt
- 1 cup Séka Hills olive oil
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- sliced strawberries and whipped cream for serving
- Move rack to middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Thoroughly coat a 9-cup (10 inch) bunt pan* with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the pan upside down to drain off any pooling spray. Coat the sides, bottom, and tube with flour, rotating and tilting the pan to coat well. Invert the pan to let excess flour fall from the pan.
- In a food processor, process the almonds with 1 cup of the flour until finely ground.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until combined. Whisk in the yogurt and then the olive oil. Add the flour and nut mixture, the remaining 1 cup flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest; stir until well-combined.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean -- 35 to 45 minutes.
- Let cool on rack for about 20 minutes.
- Unmold by giving the pan a sharp tap on the counter to help release the cake, then invert the pan onto a cake plate or platter.
- Cool fully before slicing with a serrated knife. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream. Optional: garnish with mint sprigs and sliced toasted almonds.
*A well-buttered cast iron skillet also works. Cook time will be roughly the same.
For another way to use the Séka Hills olive oil, try this salad dressing:
Séka Hills Meyer Lemon Dressing
Courtesy of Roberta Klugman, April 2013
- 4 tablespoons Séka Hills olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, or parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Have all your ingredients measured so you can make the dressing just before tossing.
- Pour the lemon juice into a medium-sized round bottom bowl.
- Slowly whisk the olive oil, about a quarter teaspoon at a time, until all of the olive oil is fully incorporated and the mixture is fully emulsified. Slow addition plus steady constant whisking keeps the ingredients combined for a silky dressing.
- Whisk in the green onion, minced garlic and chopped herbs.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with salad ingredients and serve.