Olive Oil Cake - Easy. Exquisite. Italian.

No, the title is not a self-descriptor. It's simply the three words that come to mind when I think of my favorite Olive Oil Cake recipe. Last summer I was lucky enough to take an Italian Cooking Class from Diane Lavonne of Diane's Market Kitchen. Along with falling head over heels in love with the KitchenAid pasta attachment, adopting the Microplane as my new must-have tool and experiencing the stomach-turning ins and outs of cleaning a squid, I was introduced to a lovely Italian dessert (or dolce), the Olive Oil Cake. (Torta di olio di oliva - sounds heavenly, right?!)

This cake is not overwhelmingly sweet, it's light with a hint of citrus (freshly squeezed oranges add flavor and moisture to this cake) and it's relatively easy yet impressive. (Love it when those worlds collide!) Plus, it's the perfect dinner party cake to fill your home with a fragrant sweetness while baking. Just pop it into the oven when your guests arrive and by the time you're ready for some after-dinner espresso, it's ready and waiting!

Torta di olio di oliva - Servings: 12
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
pinch salt
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 cup pignolia, pine nuts
4 tbsp sugar, to top

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a nine inch cake pan.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and 1 cup of sugar. Add olive oil, milk, juice and zest. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and top with pine nuts and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

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