All I really want to do

I've been thinking all week about how to bring this whole NaBloPoMo thing to a close, whether I should bang out one last reader request post, or reflect on just how lovely it was for me to be here every day this month. (It was very lovely.) But in the end, all I really want to do today is thank you.  And feed you cake.  

This is Alice Medrich's sherry and olive oil pound cake. I've never baked a boozy cake before, and for some reason I thought that most of the alcohol would burn right off, the way it does in cooking. I was mistaken about that. I discovered my error at approximately 1:25pm today when, after consuming two slices in rapid succession, my head felt suddenly swimmy. This cake is festive, shall we say, soaked and squidgy with a FULL CUP of sherry. (Though I am a terrible lightweight, so it's possible that you won't find it nearly as strong.) The dimpled crust has a crunch to it; the crumb is tight and rosy. It's scented with orange zest and as the cake baked, I could smell winter coming.

Thank you for a great November, everyone. I've loved spending this month with you.


Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake
Adapted from Pure Desserts by Alice Medrich

You have your choice of pans for this cake. The recipe makes enough for one 10- to 12-inch tube or Bundt pan, or for two 5- to 6-cup loaf pans. In her recipe notes, Alice Medrich says something about toasted slices for breakfast, so I went with the loaves, naturally. She also says that the cake improves over a day or two. It's very good today just a few hours out of the oven, so I'm looking forward to that.

The recommended sherry for this recipe is a medium sherry called Amontillado. I had only Pedro Ximénex on hand (thanks to this recipe), which is sweeter, but I went ahead and used it and reduced the sugar by ¼ cup. No problem.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest from 1 medium orange
5 cold eggs
1 cup sweet sherry (Amontillado or Pedro Ximénex; see headnote)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Oil and flour the pan(s), or line the loaf pans with parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and the zest into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with your fingertips, breaking up any clumps of zest as you go. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment, add the oil, and beat on medium-high speed until well-blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Continue to beat for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale.

Add a third of the flour, beat on low until just blended, half of the sherry, beat again on low until just blended, then repeat until all of the flour and sherry are incorporated. (Flour, sherry, flour, sherry, flour.)

Scrape the batter into the pan(s). Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 60 minutes, and the top is nicely browned. Cool the cake in the pan(s) on a rack for 15 minutes. Then, slide a knife around the sides of the pan(s) to release the cake(s), and turn out on the rack to cool completely.


anya said...

Thank YOU, Jess, for the month of non-stop deliciousness. It's been lovely indeed! And thumbs up to boozy cakes. It's their time now.

naomi said...

this cake reminds me of a dessert my mother made one thanksgiving called "the tipsy parson" - cake squares drenched in sherry. She also had expected that the alcohol would cook off, but instead it was a very tipsy holiday! I may have to try this recipe out and see how it compares to the parson's cake...!

In the Farm Kitchen said...

I've never tried a boozy cake before, but I must admit it sounds especially perfect for the holidays. Cheers!

shari said...

i made an almond cranberry upside-down cake recently and remember thinking that it was good but it would have been even better boozy!

i'm quite fond of alice medrich so i'm looking forward to trying this cake. of course, having sherry in my pantry for an emergency ice cream dessert will be an extra bonus. ;)

thanks for a wonderful month of posts. you're the best.

Jacqui MacKenzie said...

Loved reading your voice every day. And your commitment this month totes deserves a fist bump. Double fist bumps! Go, you. :)

Hannah said...

Wow Jess congratulations! What a month - have loved sharing it with you. Crunchy crumb and toastability - sounds like my kind of cake. Sherry-soaking will be something new, but I'll give it a holiday test drive :)

I hope we see you back here again soon. Happy December --

Anne said...

Congratulations on finishing a month of NaBloPoMo! Phew, I had to look twice to not mess that name up!

I think I'll have to give this a try because it looks so moist and the thought of a booze dessert does sound good right about now.

talley said...

A boozy cake sounds like a perfectly appropriate way to celebrate a month of blogging! I've loved stopping by and reading your posts everyday. Thank you for inspiring me to join in on the posting. It has been lovely for me too. It's helped my writing flow a bit easier. Once I get my hands on some sherry I'm going to make this cake and make a little toast to you Jess.

Ruthy (Omeletta) said...

This looks incredible- and I love how you wrote it smells of winter coming. One of my favorite smells ever :)

Sylvie said...

I've seen a lot of olive oil cakes about in my cafe adventures and I've been dying to try this out. Looks delicious! And congrats on succeeding in NaBloPoMo :)

Pia said...

What a wonderful cake to end the NaBloMO meal with. Thanks for such a lovely series of posts, Jess :) I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Elaine said...

Looks like a wonderful cake. You're right about the alcohol though. There have been studies which show alcohol takes ages to burn off in baking...much much longer than you'd think. Here's a handy chart http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blalcohol12.htm
I've loved your blog this month, but don't underestimate how much time it's taken. All this, and a baby too. Respect!

alanachernila said...

I love this cake! (Also, this book--I think I've made nearly every recipe from it.) I actually used to make it at this French grocery where we sold all sorts of beautiful olive oils, and I would switch around which olive oil I used, which I loved. I haven't made it in forever, though- and it's time to bring it back. But you do that to me- you make me want to make cake! One more reason I'm thankful for you. Happy December... xo

Kasey said...

Hi, Jess. I am so impressed by your dedication this month! Being able to write everyday is something I always *want* to do, but feel like I just can never stick. So hooray! I hope December is off to a good start for you. xo

Gemma said...

This sounds incredible! I had been planning on buying some pedro ximenez for Christmas anyway and now I have an extra reason to pick some up this weekend. And congratulations on getting through November, I really enjoyed seeing your posts pop up every day.

Elizabeth said...

I love a good crust on top of a cake like you describe here, looks beautiful.
I also got a little bit of a shock when my friend and I made a Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake from a NY Times recipe. A little too boozy for me but quite a crowd pleaser. http://freefoodboston.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/whiskey-soaked-dark-chocolate-bundt-cake/