Saturday, May 7
The Situation is Really Just Continuing.
Ottolenghi. Have you heard of this place? The food philosophy of these people? It’s adding to the situation.
Listen to them:
‘We only produce things that we would want to eat ourselves.’
I can trust this.
“We cook to feed and to share, applying the same instincts as a home cook.”
Um, wow, this is my dream.
“We are desperate to share our fixation with anyone who feels similarly.”
And… that would be me.
But it’s not only their food philosophy, have you had a slice of their apple and olive oil cake with maple butter icing? What about their chocolate and pecan cookies or flourless orange and almond cake with chocolate ganache? I walked into their Notting Hill store and whispered, “Hello, I live here.”
I have this friend, and she indulges me in my fantasy dinners. Dessert for dinner is how we have community. Just before I left New Zealand I invited Grace over for dinner and she replied, “Shall I bring the Movenpick?” I love her. I got to work right away preparing David Lebovitz’s butterscotch cream pie and Ottolenghi’s apple and olive oil cake with the most velvety maple syrup butter icing to have ever passed through your mouth, lightly smudge your lips and sit effortlessly on your tongue to mull for a brief moment before it melts and fills your mouth with so much flavour you could quite possibly cry. And so I made it, but I will get back to this shortly.
As far back as I can remember there has had to be a reason for things. Perhaps I have made it this way. For instance; food. We can’t love food just for the sake of taste. That isn’t enough for me. Because if you think about it, taste in itself is meaningless unless it is experienced by people. It relies on us for its existence. Therefore, its dependence on people deems it significance.
We have quite a responsibility here.
It is no wonder then why the love of food has become such a shared human experience. There is meaning in sitting down and having a meal with friends, family or strangers. Food and flavour and cooking connect people to each other. And the euphoric ingredient of taste only enhances this connecting experience. I am convinced that the inseparable combination of taste, therefore food, and community is fundamentally meaningful in this world.
And so I want to encourage you to experience what is meaningful and the best way I thought I could do that was by letting you in on this apple and olive oil cake that actually creates so much feeling in your body that you could experience nothing but enjoyment over being with the people you are eating it with.
Apple and Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing
Adapted from ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.’
In making it from home with an oven I was still in the process of getting used to, the only thing I would do to improve this cake would be to cook it for about 10 minutes less to ensure it is moist enough.
280g good quality flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice/allspice
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1cm squares
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites
For the icing:
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g soft brown sugar
85ml maple syrup
220g cream cheese, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 170°. Grease a large cake tin and place baking paper on the bottom and the sides.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together. In a separate bowl, beat the olive oil, vanilla and sugar together until it is thick and smooth. Beat in each egg at a time. Stir in the apples and lemon zest and then the flour mixture. Next whisk the egg whites until they are thick and stiff and gently fold it in to the batter. Make sure not to mix them too much as you don’t want too much air too expel. It is totally fine if there are still visible traces of egg white. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, but make sure you check it regularly so it doesn’t loose its moisture and take it out of the oven just as the batter is cooked, no longer. Ensure the cake is completely cooled before you cut it.
For the icing beat the butter, maple syrup and sugar until it is thick and very smooth; about 8 minutes. Then add the cream cheese and continue beating until it is smooth.
Once the cake is cooled, with a sharp long knife slice the cake horizontally. Be careful removing the top layer that it doesn’t break in half. Often fish slices are good for this. Use half of the icing on the top of the bottom layer of cake. Replace the top cake layer and use the rest of the icing to ice it.
Enjoy your dinner!
Notting Hill Store
63 Ledbury Road
London W11 2AD