This delightful Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake is not only unusual, it is also a great way to make use of grapes in a dessert!
Grapes over berries this time
I think it’s quite rare to see people baking with grapes. I don’t really know why that is, but I just though now would be a great time to post this recipe for Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake that’s been sitting on my backlog for a while now. I was trying to figure out the perfect timing for this, but after my previous post of a savory dish featuring grapes, a grape dessert seemed like a good follow-up.
Grapes bake up similarly to berries in desserts, with some minor differences. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to make an argument here that one is better than the other. These are just some observations that I have after making this cake.
Because of their size, it takes a slightly longer time for grapes to ripen and pop and release juices in the oven at regular baking temperatures. With berries, you can see the juices “bleed” onto the finished cake. These juices tend to flavor the cake even more. While grapes do not tend to “bleed” as much as berries do, this also means you still get to bite into the fruit even after they’re baked compared to berries which tend to break down into mush.
I guess my point is: Grapes and berries offer fairly different eating experiences in desserts, but both are great for baking.
Using grapes is certainly not something usual, at least from where I’m from. It’s why I was keen on trying this Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake out in the first place. I can’t recall ever eating a cake dotted with grapes before. Before, my favorite way to enjoy grapes was to top them on pavlovas, but now I am glad to expand my repertoire.
What’s in a Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake?
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that I waxed poetic about a (quite literally) life-changing Lemon Olive Oil Cake at the start of the year. I take every opportunity I can to make other variations of olive oil cakes, and this one is also very very good.
Obviously, the olive oil you use will be very important with this cake. You don’t need to use anything expensive, but do try to find an extra-virgin olive oil that is more neutral tasting. I have tried other olive oils that are labeled as fruity but personally I find that the taste is a bit too strong in the finished cake.
Using strong-tasting olive oil makes it seem as if the olive oil is trying to wrestle for the spotlight, and the flavor kind of throws the entire dessert off-balance. My favorite to use for olive oil desserts is Cobram Estate’s Classic Flavour Olive Oil, but they also have a Light one. (Not sponsored, just really like it!) The purpose of the olive oil is mostly to get that gorgeous crumb/cake texture, not necessarily to flavor the cake. The main flavors should still come from the rest of the ingredients, with the olive oil flavor as a pleasant undertone.
In the case of this Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake, the prominent flavor is that of the grape. Baking the grapes releases its essence and blisters the fruit enough to release some, but not too much, juice. The juice seeps into the cake crumb, complementing the lemon, almond, and olive oil tones of the cake.
The crumb of this cake is delicate, as expected, because it also has Greek yogurt. It is also not too sweet, so dusting it with powdered sugar is okay. Just don’t go overboard. I noticed that the lemon flavor jumped out a bit more during the succeeding days while we were finishing off the leftovers.
This delicious Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake was also very well-received by friends who got to taste it, so I’m fairly confident this will be a hit on a holiday spread too!
- Choose a good quality neutral-tasting extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. The main purpose of this ingredient is to produce a cake with a delicate crumb (alongside the Greek yogurt), not necessarily to flavor the cake. It’s not always a pleasant experience to have a strong olive oil aftertaste in desserts, so I recommend picking an EVOO that doesn’t have any strong fruity or vegetal tasting notes. Light olive oil undertones are fine, but it shouldn’t feel like the olive oil is wrestling for attention in the cakes. My go-to for olive oil desserts is Cobram Estate’s Classic Flavour Olive Oil but you can use whatever you like as long as it doesn’t have a strong taste.
- I prefer using black grapes for color contrast, but you can use what you like/have. Any grapes would work for this recipe. I expect that table grapes will probably blister faster and leak more juices into the cake because they’re generally softer than black grapes.
- Make sure to mix in the olive oil and yogurt well. If your olive oil separates from the mixture while the cake is baking, your cake will come out with a weird texture/crumb. During the stage where the wet ingredients are mixed together, you must make sure to whisk the oil and yogurt with the eggs until the mixture is completely homogenous.
- Do not over-mix or over-work the batter so that it comes out tender. As a general rule, when making cakes, we want to avoid too much gluten formation. Gluten is what you want for breads, not cakes. To maintain the tenderness of the cakes, avoid over-mixing the batter once your flour goes in. Just mix until you can no longer see any streak of flour in the batter, then stop. Even if the batter still seems lumpy it will even out once baked. Just make sure there are no hidden pockets of flour in there and it should be fine.
- Do not overfill and overcrowd the tart pans. I use one 9-inch pan plus two 5-inch pans because this makes a good amount of batter. (You can probably get away with two 9-inch pans if you halve the batter properly.) Tart pans are perfect for this cake because the pan’s fairly short height ensures the grapes do not drown in the batter. You can use more grapes on your cake than I did but please do not crowd them into the batter until they’re practically “cheek to cheek”. There won’t be enough cake to grape ratio and we don’t want that.
- Do not over-bake the cake to ensure a delicate non-dry crumb. We don’t like to over-bake things in general, but I feel this is worth a special mention because you’re baking two different sizes of cake here. The smaller ones should come out first, at around the 18 to 20 minute mark. The big tart needs about 5 to 10 minutes more.
- This Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake is best on the day it is made, but leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days. Take the cake out at least 20 minutes before eating so that it comes back to room temperature. (I personally prefer it this way but to each his own!) The confectioner’s sugar will melt once the cakes are refrigerated, but the cakes will still be wonderful.
Grape and Almond Olive Oil Cake
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, nonfat is fine
- ½ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon’s zest and juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup almond meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups seedless grapes, or more as desired
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously oil your tart pans (one 9-inch and two 5-inch) and place into a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs until combined and color has lightened. Whisk in the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, until well blended and homogenous. Whisk in the sugar until dissolved.
- Add in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just well-blended, but do not overmix. Divide the batter equally among the tart pans.
- Press the grapes decoratively into the batter in whatever pattern you like. Bake the tarts all at the same time. The smaller tarts will be done by 18 to 20 minutes, while the 9 inch tart will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Make sure to check the tarts with a toothpick to see if they come out clean. Do not overbake to keep the crumb delicate.
- Take out from oven and allow to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s powder before slicing and serving. Enjoy with Coffee Cream Oolong Tea.
Watch how it's made
- This drink is totally optional but oh my is it good! I love how the roasted taste of oolong just goes perfectly with the coffee. Even though I messed up my “foam” I still love how the heavy cream creates a creamier type of drink compared to just milk. It’s a really good match with this cake!
- Make sure your coffee is COMPLETELY cooled before adding into your cream. Your cream will not thicken up when whisked if it’s not cold, so adding in warm coffee is a no-no. Please don’t be impatient like me lol.
Coffee Cream Oolong Tea Latte
- ¼ cup cold heavy cream
- 1/8 cup cold strong coffee
- 1 to 2 teaspoons maple syrup, or more to taste
- ½ to ¾ cup prepared oolong tea*
- In a glass, foam or whisk together cream, coffee, and maple syrup. Whisk just until well combined and slightly thickened but pourable. (This won’t thicken up into whipped cream.)
- In a serving glass, add ice. Add oolong tea to the glass, then pour in the coffee cream. Stir and enjoy with the Grape, Almond, and Olive Oil Cake.
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