MAKES: 1 rectangular cake or 2 layers (12 to 16 servings)

TIME: About 1 hour, plus time to cool

This is by no means for die-hard health fanatics; truly, it’s an entirely delicious cake that uses olive oil for flavor and not just to replace the butter, which it does with excellent results. This cake is fluffy, moist, and extremely versatile.

Sauces, glazes, and frostings you can use with this cake: Serve with Basil-Apple, Pear, or Pineapple Sauce or any fruit pure, or warm the cake and top with a dollop of Cassis Orange Marmalade Glaze.

Butter, for greasing the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup sugar

4 eggs, separated

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons grated or finely minced orange or lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Grease two 8- or 9-inch layer cake pans or one 9 — 13-inch pan with a little butter. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Use an electric mixer to beat the 1/2 cup oil with 3/4 cup of the sugar until creamy, then add the egg yolks and beat until thick and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary (this will take 5 to 7 minutes).

Mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Add the orange juice and zest and stir until blended. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they foam, then sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar while beating to soft peaks. Stir them thoroughly but as gently as possible into the batter (the base batter is very thick).

Turn into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan if you’re using the layer cake pans; leave the cake in the 9 — 13-inch pan.

Frost or glaze if you like (see the headnote for suggestions). Store at room temperature, covered with wax paper, for up to a day or two; use plastic wrap and it will keep for an extra day or so.

Variations

Coconut Cake. Dense, rich, and very flavorful: Substitute coconut oil for the olive oil and coconut milk (to make your own, see Coconut milk) for the orange juice. Add 1 cup shredded coconut and omit the orange zest. Proceed with the recipe, folding the shredded coconut in with the coconut milk.

Blueberry-Olive Oil Torte. Also a denser cake, studded with blueberries: Reduce the eggs to 4 yolks and 2 whites. Substitute 3/4 cup milk for the orange juice. Add 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter and 2 cups blueberries (frozen are fine). Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl like a pancake batter, adding the blueberries last. Proceed to Step 4. Remove from the pan to serve.