A little bit of warm sunshine really does a body good, and also has an interesting way of causing inspiration. Couple the sun-spiration with the piece of me that never quite came home from Italy (clearly I’ve been on an Italian cooking kick), and the seed of a recipe starts to blossom. The adventure through food effect is pretty fabulous- having the ability to transport a person through time and space to another place without having to book actual travel plans. In order to experience a bit of Italian sunshine, I decided to bake a light and bright olive oil skillet cake piqued with fresh raspberry for a splash of vibrant Spring flavor. This easy brunch cake or dessert is in the style of an old fashioned upside down cake, meaning it’s built from the bottom up with fruit layered in the pan first and then flipped onto a plate for serving.
Olive oil cake is a big part of Italian tradition, due to the fruity flavor of the oil the country produces. Good quality olive oil is used in place of butter or other fat, resulting in a naturally light tasting and moist cake. The intensity in the flavor of the oil itself is will have a direct result on the flavor of the cake. Rich and fruity extra virgin olive oil will be much stronger than a mild and mellow basic olive oil. It also makes for a beautifully crumb-y golden brown cake, perfect for absorbing the caramelized raspberries on top/bottom.
Tricks and tips for this recipe include owning a well seasoned 10 inch cast iron skillet. Warm up the skillet on the stove top for about 5 minutes over medium heat, and then rub the bottom and sides all over with a teaspoon of olive oil until the pan is just shiny. Allow the skillet to cool, and then right before you’re ready to start this cake, grease the skillet with butter on the bottom and sides as well. Since the caramelized raspberries in the pan bottom of the pan actually make up the top of the cake, there is a flip involved. Make sure to cool the cake for 5 minutes before flipping. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the cake. Working over the middle of the counter (to catch any mistakes), place a sturdy plate over the skillet, and flip the cake onto the plate in one swift movement. Cake, as picture here, is garnished with powdered sugar and some freshly torn mint leaves.
A special thank you to my great friend and fabulous pastry chef Robbi, who helped me in the brainstorming of this fantastic recipe.
Raspberry Olive Oil Skillet Cake
For cake batter:
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- ¾ c. olive oil
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- 1 ½ c. flour
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
For the pan:
- 3 Tbs. butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- ½ tsp. powdered sugar
- 2-3 freshly torn mint leaves
Tools required: 10” cast iron skillet
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure the cast iron skillet is clean and well seasoned, with no moisture in the pan. Rub the bottom and sides of the skillet with butter, and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on low speed, lightly beat the eggs until smooth and frothy. Add the vanilla and salt to the eggs, and while continuing to mix on low speed, slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to beat until all of the oil is blended into the eggs, and the mixture has thickened slightly. Add the sugar and keep mixing, increasing to medium speed until all the sugar is incorporated. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and beat into the batter until smooth.
- Melt the butter in the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar into the melted butter, and add the raspberries into the pan in an even layer. Pour the cake batter into the pan over the raspberries, and give the pan a shake to even out the batter. Put the skillet into the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted to the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the cake. Working over the middle of the counter (to catch any mistakes), place a sturdy plate over the skillet, and flip the cake onto the plate in one swift movement. Sprinkle powdered sugar and freshly torn mint leaves over the top of the cake before serving.