Olive Oil & Sweet Wine Cake with Hazelnuts

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since we started producing extra virgin olive oil, it’s that many of us are limited in our ideas of how to use high-quality olive oil. The first thing we think of is cooking and drizzling, but there is so much more. In this post, we’re going to talk about baking with olive oil. “Whaaaa??” you might be thinking. Trust us; there are a few great reasons to give it a try.

  • Olive oil contains healthier fats and polyphenols, which butter does not.
  • Olive oil imparts a delicious depth of flavor to baked goods.
  • Because olive oil is liquid at room temperature, it lends a moistness to baked goods, which butter does not.
  • It’s great for vegans who want a dairy alternative that isn’t plain old vegetable oil.
  • You can switch up the flavors by using different EVOO varieties. Peppery oil goes great with chocolate desserts and savory bread like focaccia. Fruity or citrusy olive oils work well with lighter cakes.

Below we’ve shared a recipe contribution from food and wine writer Katie Gomez of Gonzo Gastronomy. While in college, Katie took a job with Wine Enthusiast magazine, where she began her love affair with wine. After graduating, she pursued a career in marketing but continued to travel, explore, learn, and write about food and wine. In 2008 she started her blog—Gonzo Gastronomy—which grew rapidly, gaining worldwide readership that included several industry icons. At its most popular, the blog received up to 10,000 unique hits each month and was respected as being one of the best-written wine blogs on the Internet. For eight years, Gonzo Gastronomy was a personal, unapologetically subjective take on the best and worst of food and drink. After a hiatus, Katie is now back at writing…and eating…and drinking, all while putting together a cookbook/memoir that will be a personal, unapologetically subjective take on all things epicure. This recipe will be featured in that book! She suggests using a fruitier olive oil for this cake. Eh hem, we’re looking at you, Originale.

Olive Oil & Sweet Wine Cake with Hazlenuts


1 cup of shelled hazelnuts
6 large eggs
3/4 C sugar
1 C flour
3/4 C cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C strong, extra-virgin olive oil*
1/3 C regular olive oil
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 C dessert wine**
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350F/176C. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 or 9 minutes, moving them around a couple of times to make sure they don’t burn. Take them out, let them cool a few minutes (leave the oven on), then throw them into a kitchen towel, bundle them up in the towel, and rub it all vigorously to loosen the skins. Use your fingers to rub off whatever remains but don’t kill yourself…if some of the nuts refuse to give up their skins, you’ll be fine. Toss them in a Ziploc, seal it, and beat them up with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until you have nice, even small chunks.

Separate the eggs and let them come to room temperature. In the meantime, brush a 9” springform pan with olive oil and line the bottom with a circle of parchment. Then oil the top of that paper as well. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mix is thick and pale. In a separate bowl, sift together both flours, the salt, and the baking powder.

Change the mixer to the paddle attachment and beat in both olive oils and the orange extract. Once combined, mix in the dessert wine. Fold the flour mixture into the batter in 3 additions, blending gently just to combine. Fold in the crushed hazelnuts.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whip to medium-stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in three stages, then scrape the batter into the pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 – 30 minutes. It should spring back when lightly touched and a thin wooden skewer should come out clean when inserted in the center. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before trying to remove the side of the pan. Top with plenty of confectioner’s sugar when serving.

Obviously this is best served with a glass of the same dessert wine you used in the recipe, but it also goes fabulously with some Frangelico (to complement the hazelnuts) or some Grand Marnier (to complement the citrus notes).

**Please, for the love of booze, do NOT throw some cheap stuff in here. You don’t need to spend $50 on the wine either, but you want something with a lot of character like a Vidal icewine or Sauternes, so that the honeyed, fruity flavors come through.

Recipe and photo, courtesy of Katie Gomez

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