My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and we planned a small celebration in our friend’s backyard. The day before the party multiple people had to enter quarantine for exposure to COVID and so we cancelled the party. Still such weird and unreliable times! But I had already planned on baking myself a birthday cake and so went ahead with it and then spent my birthday dropping slices of cake off to friends, which it turns out was a nice way to spend the day.

I have admired Bronwyn Wyatt’s work from afar for years, and was very happy that she has had a couple of cake recipes published recently. I tried the Apple/Rye/Hazelnut number she wrote about over at Bon Appetit and it is SO GOOD. I recommend you try it too, it might even make a nice Thanksgiving dessert if you have pie-averse friends (and you are not reevaluating those friendships). For my birthday I made the cornmeal/vanilla/sour cream cake (I think of her cakes as slash/ cakes) with OLIVE OIL buttercream that she wrote about at Food and Wine. It’s so good. Like, just the best simple vanilla goodness—what you always want a wedding cake to be but it never is. And the olive oil buttercream is a real revelation. A couple of notes: I used a finely ground cornmeal, which I was glad for. I don’t like the grit that can sometimes come as a result of using the more coarsely ground stuff. Use a really assertive extra-virgin olive oil for the buttercream. You’re only using 2 tablespoons as flavoring and so it needs to be punchy. Bronwyn says the citric acid is optional, but I think it should be required. It adds some zing without any citrus flavor, which is ideal. It can often be found in the pickling/canning section of the grocery store, or ordered online.

Bronwyn is also serving as my guide (spiritual mentor?) as I attempt to develop a fruitcake recipe I am happy with. More on that later. You can find Bronwyn on Instagram here.

6 comments to “Cake”

  1. Happy belated birthday! That cake sounds amazing — I’m intrigued about the olive oil buttercream. Do you have a go-to olive oil — I find there’s such a variety and some are more flavourful than others. Also, who is pie-averse? I’d be reevaluating that friendship — I think Homer Simpson said it best (and I’m paraphrasing here) “You don’t win friends with salad and, you certainly don’t win them by hating pie.”

  2. HAPPY birthday!!!

    Dying to make this cake – the buttercream calls for “2 ½ sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter,” but that would be 3 sticks of butter… Do you remember what you used?

  3. Hi Kris- I, more often than not, have California Olive Ranch at home- which isn’t especially punchy. I happened to have something else I got as a gift for this. Might be a good use for one of those olive oil shops that seem to be in certain kinds of towns, where you can try a bunch.

    Sally- I did the 2.5 sticks because I had made the other recipe first and figured it was correct.

  4. This cake looks and sounds terrific. I looked at the Apple/Rye/Hazelnut recipe and some people thought it was too sweet. What did you think? I’m putting both of these recipes on my short list for baking soon. My favorite olive oil comes from Vincenzo Di Folco in Arpino, Italy. It’s a place I’ve visited a couple of times with cooking school, back when we could all travel. Somehow it clears customs quickly.

  5. Happy Birthday! in these times that sounded like a perfect way to spend the day.
    That cake is beautiful! Love the look.

  6. Happy belated birthday! Bronwyn’s cakes are so unbelievably beautiful!!

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