Italian Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting
The holidays are full of get-togethers and parties, aka opportunities to show off baking prowess. It’s also the time of year when everyone is insanely busy, which means I’m likely to find myself desperately searching for a dessert recipe at 11:00 on a Friday night for Saturday’s party, all while simultaneously waging a small battle with a bolt of wrapping paper. Of course it has to taste delicious. And be easy. Oh, and could it also be gorgeous?
I think I may have found a recipe that checks all three boxes. A crazy-moist olive oil cake as simple as pour, pour, mix, and a 3-ingredient, out-of-this-world, nutty, fragrant, brown butter buttercream. With recipes this simple, you can have a little fun with decoration. I like candied cranberries because they look like little gems, but feel free to let your imagination go wild.
2 C flour
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 C mild tasting olive oil
1 1/4 C whole milk
3 large eggs
Zest of one orange
1/2 C fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 7″ cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, milk, eggs, zest and orange juice.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake 30 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Brown Butter Buttercream
2 C softened unsalted butter, divided
3 tsp vanilla extract
5 C powdered sugar
Cook 1 C butter in a skillet over low heat. The butter will start to foam and become extremely fragrant, with a nutty, toasty smell. Once brown bits have formed all over the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and pour into a shallow dish, being sure to scrape all of the brown bits in. Let cool and refrigerate until back to the texture of softened butter (should be fully solidified), about 30 min.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream remaining 1 cup butter until smooth. Add in cooled brown butter and vanilla, beating until fully combined and creamy. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time to avoid covering your counter in a sugar explosion. Beat until fully combined.
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
Medium sized grained sugar for coating
Place cranberries in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
Cook water and sugar in a sauce pan over low heat until fully dissolved. Simmer 2 minutes then let cool off the heat about 5 minutes more.
Pour syrup over cranberries. Cover cranberries and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Drain cranberries and spread out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with medium sized grained sugar and shake the pan to coat. Let dry for at least 1 hour.
Sprinkle cranberries with more sugar and shake again to cover any blank spots. Let dry another 30-60 min.
Final Assembly: Layer the cake and frosting, and top with sugared cranberries!