Max Rocha’s seasonal
interpretation of the classic olive oil cake
This is my take on the classic Italian olive oil cake. I like to make it in a tray as it cuts into 10 slices, which can be individually wrapped and given as gifts. If you have really good quality olive oil at home, it’s lovely to pour a little over the cake moments before you serve it. It’s the perfect afternoon cake to go with a cup of tea or served as dessert with pouring cream. Usually I make it with oranges, but clementines are in season so it’s nice to make the most of them.
8 unwaxed clementines
2 unwaxed lemons
180g blanched almonds, skin on
A pinch of salt
180g caster sugar
90ml olive oil
12g baking powder
180ml clementine juice
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, then grease and line a baking tray, roughly 30 x 45cm. Place 4 clementines and 1 lemon into a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Place a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the water so that the fruit stays submerged, then allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roast the almonds for about 10 minutes then blitz in a food processor until finely ground. When the clementines and lemon have simmered for 30 minutes, remove from the water, cut in half and discard the seeds.
3. Juice the remaining uncooked lemon and clementines, then blitz the liquid with the cooked fruit, skin on, in a food processor to make a paste.
4. Beat the eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add the sugar and beat again, then add the clementine paste, almonds and olive oil. Combine the polenta and baking powder in a separate bowl and then beat into the mixture. Pour into the baking tray and place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
5. For the syrup, put the clementine juice and sugar in a pan over a low heat until it begins to turn glossy, being careful not to burn it or turn the liquid a caramel colour. To test if the cake is cooked, place a sharp knife in the centre and if it comes out clean it is ready.
6. To finish, carefully place the cake on a wire rack, prick holes in it and pour over the clementine syrup. Make sure you allow it to cool before slicing.