Merry Happy

March Hare: A very merry unbirthday. 

Alice: To me? 

Mad Hatter: To you! 

March Hare: A very merry unbirthday. 

Alice: For me? 

Mad Hatter: For you! Now blow the candle out, my dear, and make your wish come true!

March Hare & Mad Hatter: A very merry unbirthday to you!


Today, La Pêche Fraîche turns 1.
That’s right y’all; we’re celebrating a blogiversary right here.  Right now.
And we’re doing it properly: with a very large, opulent cake.

It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago, May 30th, 2012, at 9:11 PM, I first hit publish.
I hit publish and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I had a blog and I didn’t know what that really meant.
I sent a post into this space, my corner of the internet, and waited.
For what, I had no idea.
Now, 80 posts later, I’m not sure if I have any clearer of an idea.
It’s an interesting experience, to look back on this past year, to browse through the many posts, reminiscing (and cringing).
 
Many things have changed, some for the better, some the worse.
 
People have moved in and out of my life; 
things I always took for granted as constants fell away: cliffs sheared off, leaving me teetering on the edge; 
new experiences, new relationships, have nested snugly, precariously, on the crags and crannies left behind; 
triumphs have been trumpeted, flags left proudly waving on distant planets; 
losses have been suffered, sending me cowering in a corner, covered with tears and blood;
I survived even those which I thought I could not.
 

This has been a year of change, of growth, of progression, of learning.
This blog makes that uncomfortably clear.

Just looking back at some really terribly formatted, I mean really awful, posts and photographs, I cringe, yes, but also laugh and enjoy them, as embarrassed as I feel.
There have been times, I’ll admit it, when I have wanted to go back through and re-format all the oldest posts, but I refrained.  
That’s a rabbit hole which this little girl is most certainly not falling into.
This blog is a reflection of my journey, in life and photography and pastry.

I would rather celebrate and embrace that than change it and sand off all the rough edges.

Those rough edges are, um… charismatic.  Or something.  I don’t know.
Actually, I would really like to sand off those edges.  I just don’t have the time or energy.

Oh and, by the way? Don’t you dare look back at those older posts.  Stay right here.
Eyes on the prize.

So anyways!  Right!  It’s celebration time!
Look!  Cake!
My kind of cake, specifically.  Yep.  Greedy and selfish.  That would be me my tastebuds!

My favorite flavors and components are incorporated into this cake.
It’s a brown sugar and deep, rich chocolate marble cake, filled with a tart, buttery passion fruit curd, generously frosted with a barely sweet and wonderfully tongue-coating Italian meringue buttercream.
The filling and frosting of my choice, as in, my favorites!  Absolute favorites.  I could eat ’em straight.  And I did.
Things are getting real wild, as you can tell.

This is a special cake; it does take a bit of effort and time (this cake took me 4 hours start to finish, which is a long time for me… like a really long time), but it’s worth it.
It’s easy on the eyes and the tastebuds.
It’s a celebration cake, in all senses of the word.

Let me just say…
I am grateful for my family and my friends, those whom I keep so very close to my heart, who support me and kick me in the butt, albeit occasionally unnecessarily.
I am grateful for the chance to blather on and on while standing atop this blog soapbox, to share what I love most in this world (no, not whining.  Pastry.).
 
I am grateful, above all, for you lovely readers, my dears, mes chéries, because it’s your clicks and comments that keep this blog going; it’s because of you that this blog gives me any sense of satisfaction, and, honestly, it’s for you.  
This blog is for you.
 
Bon anniversaire, La Pêche Fraîche!  
Et mes chers lecteurs, je vous remercie de tout coeur.
Je vous adore.
Je vraiment vous adore.
My Kind of Cake
for the brown sugar marble cake:
adapted from Food and Wine
ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 splashes vanilla extract
6 ounces (12 tablespoons, 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups tightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 ounces very good quality unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pam spray 4 6-inch cake pans (or 2 9-inch, or 3 8-inch).
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.  
Mix milk and vanilla extract.
Cream butter until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sugar.
Cream for 2 more minutes, until super fluffy and smooth- not gritty.
Add in the eggs one at a time, while mixing on low.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low after adding all the eggs.
With the mixer on low, simultaneously add the milk mixture and the dry ingredients- go slow.
Once everything is mixed, scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low again to ensure homogeneity.
Split the batter in two- by weight, you should have one half with 1 pound 5.5 ounces to which you will add the 4 ounces of chocolate.  By volume, measure out approximately 2 cups.
Stir in the melted chocolate into the batter that you just measured out.
Alternate placing scoops of the vanilla and chocolate batters into your pans; once all the batter is portioned out, swirl it well with a fork.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a paring knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
   

   
for the passion fruit curd:
ingredients:
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
55 g sugar
80 g passion fruit purée, thawed if frozen
pinch salt
56 g butter (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces)
directions:
Blend the eggs, sugar, salt, and passion fruit together, either in a standard blender or with an immersion blender. 
Transfer to a pot (if using a standard blender, clean the blender canister).
Place over medium high heat and cook, whisking (or blending, should you have a stick blender) all the while.
Cook for about 6 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and blend in butter (transfer to the cleaned blender canister and add the butter and blend, if using a standard blender).  
Allow to cool completely before using.
 
for the vanilla bean Italian meringue buttercream:
from Joe Pastry: click through for an in depth tutorial
ingredients:
5 ounces of egg whites (about 5)
8.75 ounces of sugar, divided
pinch of cream of tartar
scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
2 ounces water
16 ounces (4 sticks, 32 tablespoons, 1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened but still cool
directions:
Mix the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until foamy.  
Add in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks begin to form.  
Slowly stream in 1.75 ounces of sugar, mixed with the vanilla bean scrapings.  
Beat on high until stiff peaks form.  
Stop the mixer.
Meanwhile, mix the water and remaining 7 ounces of sugar together in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. 
Use a candy thermometer, and bring the syrup to 245 degrees F.
Remove from heat and pour into a glass mixing cup.  
Drizzle some of the syrup over the meringue, then whip on high speed for 5 seconds.
Continue in bursts like this until all of the syrup is used up.
Whip the meringue until it has cooled to room temperature (feel the side of the bowl for an indicator).
One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter. 
Mixture may curdle and look separated; keep beating.  
It will come together, usually quite suddenly, and you will be staring into a bowl of the fluffiest, most delicious frosting ever.  
It will be shiny and smooth.  
There should be no butter lumps and everything should be homogeneous.
 
to assemble:
Torte (level) each layer with a serrated knife to create a nice, smooth, flat top.
Place a cake layer on your cake stand.
Pipe buttercream around the edge of the layer to create a dam.
Fill the center of the layer with a scant 1/4 cup curd, then place the next layer on top of that.
Pipe another dam and repeat with second and third layers.  
Place the fourth layer on top, and crumb coat the cake.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Use the rest of the frosting to create a smooth, even outer coat.
Enjoy!

Chris

 

Lightning cleaves the sky,
flashes orange against endless blue.
We drive too fast,
corners wrench our bodies.
Minds and hearts numb,
stomachs tight,
tied in knots,
we are not ready:
will never be ready.
The air, thick with moisture,
chokes us,
forces us to swallow hot humidity 
with each shallow breath.
It smells of rain
and fresh hay.
Souls dissolve in this mist.
A dive team went in at 2:30:
we steel ourselves.
We are metal: hard, shiny, unbreakable.
Braced for impact,
we hurtle,
eyes squinted, hearts breaking.
The moon is dull.
The dark falls like a curtain,
black, thick, blinding velvet.
Pollen floats as voices mingle,
organizing the external chaos
while we grope in our mental darkness.
There are no stars.
The lake is eerily calm 
and so flat, pancake flat and
it is so very dark and
it smells of hay. 
 
-5/22/13
 

Time is Deceiving

 
Because sometimes, even when celebrating is the last thing in the world that you want to do, you still need cake.
 
 
Happy birthday to my big brother, Tom.
 
I love you.
 
Chris, you are in our hearts and on our minds and we will continue to search.
We will not give up.
We love you.
 
Readers, I write this through my tears.  
I will not be posting for the next few days.
 
For those of you in the Ithaca area:  please come out and help us search for Chris.  
We just want need to bring him home.
Search party organization and information can be found here and here.
{Cake and frosting from Sky High.  Find the full recipe here.}

Hipsternation

My Korean grandmother is a hipster.  
(Hi Grandma!)
A few weeks months ago, while she was visiting, a conversation about hipsters was sparked by God knows what.
In a feeble attempt to explain this large sector of the populous, I explained, 
hipsters live in Brooklyn and make their own pickles.
 
My grandma just stared at me.  I was probably eating some of her kimchi at that very moment.
Then: a revelation from my irreverent always wise father- 
Grandma is the ultimate hipster.
 
Lives in Brooklyn? Check.
Makes her own pickles?  Oh good Lord you betcha.
Best kimchi I’ve ever tasted.  Not to mention the tens of other types of pickles she makes, stuffed in her fridge at home and here in both of our fridges.
 
(Find something floating in a brown liquid in my fridge?  Keep your paws off and certainly don’t throw it out.  It’s probably some pickles.  
My favorite are chayote pickles.
Funny story about these pickles: none of my family knew what exactly the pickle even was; we couldn’t figure it out, even after poking around in the murky container for a few days.  Unfortunately, my grandma wasn’t quite so helpful, because her pronunciation of chayote left us all puzzled.  It sounded like she was sneezing.  
Ach aye OH tay.  What?!  
Eventually, I realized what she was saying- but none of the rest of my family knew what chayote was, even when pronounced correctly.  Whatever.  More for me.)
We all found this hilarious, including my grandma.
Still not sure if she understands what a hipster is, although we expanded the definition to “also really liking food trucks.”
 
Hipsters also like these rice krispie treats.
They’re the snobbiest krispie treats in the history of rice krispie treats.
First of all, everything is homemade, save for the rice krispies themselves (although, to be completely honest, I did quite a bit of googling for “homemade rice krispies”).
Secondly, the flavors are very different from your regular ole run of the mill krispie treats:
the marshmallows are made with maple syrup and an entire vanilla bean,
the caramel is heavily salted with miso,
and the whole shebang is tied together with brown butter.
(Remember when I made snobby krispies?  Yeah, these up the ante even further.)

I made these a while back, and they’ve waited quite some time in the “draft” stage of my posts, but nevertheless, they’re a chic little bar, definitely worth mentioning.  
My friend, le français, said they tasted like croissants.
I’ll take it.

P.S. Luv u gramz.

Hipster Krispiez
marshmallow adapted from smittenkitchen, inspired/adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
ingredients:
for the marshmallow:
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
1/2 cup water, divided
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
scrapings of a vanilla bean
big pinch salt
for the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons shiro miso
to assemble:
3 tablespoons of butter, browned
6+ cups of rice krispies
melted chocolate for drizzling, if desired
directions:
First, make the caramel.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil, allowing them to cook until the mixture turns deep amber, about 7 minutes.

Immediately remove from heat and whisk in butter; mixture will foam.
Stir in the cream; mixture will bubble violently- keep whisking.
Stir in the miso, whisking until everything is smooth.
Set aside; if it sets while you are making the marshmallow, just reheat it gently in the microwave or over a low flame.
Next, make the marshmallow.
Place 1/4 cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Sprinkle the gelatin on top to allow it to soften and bloom.

Mix the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and second 1/4 cup water in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
Bring the syrup mixture up to 240 degrees F, about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Pour the hot syrup over the bloomed gelatin and whip until mixture has tripled in volume and is very fluffy and white.
Sometime while the mixture is whipping, add in the vanilla bean scrapings.
Meanwhile, prepare your pan; grease a 13×9 pan with a little butter and set it aside.
Once your marshmallow is ready, transfer it to a large pot with the browned butter; heat gently to mix the butter into the marshmallow, then stir in miso caramel until everything is homogeneous.
Stir in the rice krispies, adding more only if the mixture is very wet still; you won’t need much more than 8 cups, maximum.
Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and press firmly all over to even out the tops.
Refrigerate about 30 minutes to set, or leave it at room temperature for a bit longer.
Cut into bars or squares, and drizzle with chocolate if desired.

That’s The Way

Uh huh uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh.

You’re welcome! That song will be stuck in your head for at least 5 minutes and up to a few days.
Then it’ll probably be Call Me Maybe.
Raspberry (actually, all berries) and lemon is like the ultimate ultimate combo for me (add some rhubarb and I’m done.  Seriously.  Done.)
 
Methinks it’s because I’m a photic sneezer. (whosamawhatsit?!)
 
photoptarmosis: uncontrollable sneezing in response to numerous stimuli
(Thanks, wikipedia.)
I sneeze when I eat chocolate.  And strong mint, like altoids or strong gum.  I sneeze when I look at the sun.
It’s kind of fun, and mildly entertaining.  Chocolate and gum are especially funny, seeing as I am nearly constantly snacking on one or the other.
Milk chocolate is less stimulating, I suppose, due to its lower cacao content, and I am less likely to sneeze when sneaking a taste of a Hershey bar than say, a dark chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookie.  
With dark chocolate, I’m sneezing all over the place.  
The longest sneezing fit I’ve ever had from chocolate was like 6 sneezes long.
My sneezes are especially dramatic (I mean, c’mon, it’s me.  Of course I’m going to be loud and obnoxious.), making these sneezing fits very… um… drawn out.
Achoo!  Pay attention to me!  Achoo!  Achoo!
So anyways, I think that’s why chocolate is not my favorite flavor.  
Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff.  
It’s heaven sent (Theobroma cacao, literally “chocolate food of the gods,” and yes, I know the taxonomic name for chocolate without looking.  What kind of pastry-obsessive would I be if I didn’t?)
 
I would take a fruit-based dessert, especially one with citrus, over chocolate any day.
Curd over ganache, always.
(Actually, I would put them together.  I’m a greedy little pig.  Oink.)
It’s taking a while to get around to the moral of this story.
Moral of this story:  these sticky buns are right up my alley.
They’re sweet and very sticky, caramelized on the bottom and redolent with lemon zest.
The tangy cream cheese pairs well with tart lemons and raspberries, all of the sourness being balanced by the sweet, sugary filling and buttery dough.
These are yeasted buns, but they go from mind to oven to belly in less than 2 hours, most of it being hands-off, and none of it being labor intensive.
 
Mix the dough with a mixer, plop it into a bowl and let it rest, roll it out, fill it with the simplest filling ever (butter+sugar+lemon zest), roll ’em up and slice ’em, let ’em rise, bake, glaze, eat.
 
Be not afraid of yeast!  We love yeast!  Yeast loves us!
And the yeast will behave, I promise.
They smell fear.  Don’t be afraid and you will be just fine.  
I would hold your hand, but mine is very sticky from this sweet bun.


Lemon Raspberry Sticky Buns
adapted from here
ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, browned
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (.25 ounce, 1 packet)
1/4 cup sugar
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, browned
Raspberries
For the glaze:
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Directions:
Bring milk to a simmer, remove from heat, and combine with 1st measure of butter and water.
Allow to cool to 110 degrees F.
Meanwhile, mix 2 1/4 cups of the flour, salt, yeast, and 1st measure of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook.
Once milk mixture cools, pour over dry ingredients, mix briefly, and then add egg and last cup of flour.
Allow dough to knead until very smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Place a slightly damp tea towel over the bowl and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, rub lemon zest together with 2nd measure of sugar.
After 10 minutes, roll dough out into a rough rectangle.
Dough should be rolled very thinly, no thicker than 1/4 of an inch.
Brush the dough with the 2nd measure of brown butter, then sprinkle the lemon sugar over.
Break up raspberries and dot them all over the dough.
Roll the dough up and pinch the seam firmly shut.
Cut the roll into 1 1/4 inch thick buns.
Brush a 6×12 pan with butter and place the buns snugly in.
Place a slightly damp tea towel over the pan and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake buns until the interior reaches 190 degrees F, about 30-35 minutes.
If the top starts to brown, cover with foil and continue baking.

For the glaze, simply beat everything together until smooth.
Spread over warm buns right out of the oven.

Herbes de Provence

Long time no post, I know.
Especially WISE posts. 
Things have just been, well, busy, in all senses of the word.
In the last two weeks, I’ve run a marathon, completed 4 AP tests, hosted a (very large) pre-prom party, and made 2 full plated desserts.
And many other baked goods.
 
I’ve begun to lay out my presentation (I have to talk for how long?! ).
 Mr. B and I spoke about the general format of it- he approves (phew).
It’s feeling more and more real each day that passes…
I only have x number of hours left to finish my health course and finish the final push for WISE.
Great!!! Wonderful!!! No pressure!!!
 
 
Luckily for me, now that I have a better sense of research, I have a better handle on what I need to include.
Example: this dessert technically had 3 or 4 sources of “research,” even though only one of them was a tangible recipe.
Often, research is just perusing the internet, looking for sources of inspiration: a photo, an ingredient (I just saw a picture of a cornbread-like cake and I am now intent on incorporating that somehow…), a recipe, or a flavor combination… (tarragon? rosemary?)
 
The basil fluid gel in the photo is a recipe from Johnny Iuzzini’s Dessert FourPlay;
 the inspiration for a buttermilk panna cotta came from an article from the Kitchn; 
an easy to understand guide about how to temper chocolate originated from Serious Eats’ Sweets section; 
the real movement behind this dessert came from my garden, where I found hardy lavender plants staying strong and fragrant, even after a tough winter, creeping speedwell spreading all over the raised beds and peeking through tall grass, and abundant basil plants (three, to be exact) taking over my kitchen windows.
  
Nature is a beautiful place to find inspiration; I wanted this to be a floral dessert which showcased the spicy sweetness of basil and paired the delicacy of lavender with a tart, creamy element.
The adorable little flowers didn’t hurt, either; along with some microbasil, they represented the fresh, spring feel to this dessert, much like the first blooms in my yard.
 
(No recipes today; I may use this for my presentation… but then again, I might not.  On va voir.)
 
P.S. has my blog been loading as a black, plain format for anyone else other than myself?  For the record, it’s supposed to be a peach color with Georgia font, not the black Arial that seems to be loading occasionally.  A quick refresh should fix it, but I’m not sure what the underlying problem really is.
 
Herbes de Provence
basil fluid gel
dark chocolate and basil truffle
bittersweet ganache
lavender and buttermilk panna cotta

Can’t Trust That Day

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B.
 
It’s Monday, people.
We could all use more chocolate and butterscotch on Mondays.
It’s tough going- I know.  I’m currently taking my 3rd of 4 AP tests. 
I chose blondies as my last meal.  And I chose well.
When I say bbbbblondies, it’s because I cannot possibly call these what they really are without sounding like a crazed sugar addict- 
brown butter brown sugar banana butterscotch blondies.
 
They’re gooey and sweet and rich, studded with more mix-ins than batter, and hit the spot straight out of the oven/freezer.  (More on this in the recipe itself)
 
They take 5 minutes to throw together, 25 minutes to bake, and, if you’re being very patient, 30 minutes to thicken and become dense in the freezer.
But you don’t have to do that, not if you’re ever so hungry.
 
These make Mondays just a tad bit more bearable.
Catch y’all on the flip side of these last two tests. 
Bbbbblondies
adapted from smittenkitchen
ingredients:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
1 packed cup light brown sugar
two big pinches coarse sea salt
1 egg
1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
splash vanilla
1 cup of flour
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3-1/2 cup chopped pecans
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pam spray an 8-inch round tin or an 8×8 square pan.
Brown the butter in a large saucepan.
Once butter is browned, beat it with the sugar until the mixture looks like very, very wet sand.  
Add in the egg and the salt and beat on medium speed until mixture has lightened in color and most of the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Beat in the banana.
Stir in the vanilla, then beat in the flour until the mixture is homogeneous.
Stir in the mix-ins.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is shiny and gives slightly to pressure.
The trick for super dense, gooey blondies: 
Let your blondies cool most of the way on a rack in the pan, then transfer the pan to the freezer and freeze for 30-ish minutes.  The gooey center will become dense.

Olive Yew

Olive trees’ lifespans, on average, are between 300 and 600 years; the oldest known tree is 2000 years old. (!!!)
But… and there’s always a but… I hate olives.  I’m sorry.  I do.  
I just can’t bring myself to like them… They’re sort of slimy, very squishy, and all together too salty.  
That being said, I love olive oil.  I’m not kidding.  The stuff runs through my veins.
Olive oil is liquid gold; the specialty stuff, even more so.
One of the most heavenly things on Earth is a fresh, hot baguette dipped in olive oil+Parmesan.  
There is nothing like it.
For those of you who live in Ithaca, you may have been to the little specialty olive oil and vinegar shop downtown, in the commons: F. Oliver’s.
Talk about wonderful olive oils.  I was in there the other day, recycling old bottles (If you have empty bottles from their store, don’t recycle them the regular way!  Take them down to the store and they will refill them for you or recycle and reuse them.), when I stumbled upon what may possibly be my favorite oil ever- even more so than coconut or toasted sesame- their fresh pressed blood orange olive oil.
Laaaaaawd is it good.  Mix it with some pomegranate molasses and you have the most deliciously tangy salad dressing ever.
I also got some Tuscan garden olive oil.  Gorgeous in a balsamic vinaigrette.
And no, unfortunately enough, I am not getting paid to say these things.
I wish.
Anyways, in addition to picking up some fancy schmancy new oils, I learned that F. Oliver’s is having a recipe contest.
Basically, you develop your best recipe using their oils or vinegars, send it in, and keep your fingers crossed.
The winner gets a free bottle of vinegar or oil every month for the rest of the year!
Obviously, I want to win.  Come on… Imagine all the avocado oil I could get. 
So I made a cake with blood orange olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
 
The cake itself is super soft, with a very fine, tight crumb.  The edges and top are ever so slightly crispy, which is a wonderful contrast to the tender interior.
It’s redolent with orange and almond, and it’s made with whole wheat flour.  
It’s a very virtuous cake, dairy-free, whole-wheat, with lots of healthy fats from the olive oil and almonds.  
I’ve paired it with fresh berries that have been roasted into a sticky, syrupy treat with a touch of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar that is older than I; they’re complex and balance out the sweetness of the cake wonderfully.
Taming the sweetness even further is a simple whipped mascarpone that I dolloped on top.  It’s plain and unsweetened, but gives richness and body to the dish.  
I ate could eat it by the spoonful.
 
This is a lovely, quick cake, perfect for a brunch (Mother’s day, anyone?) or quick weeknight dessert.  
It’s also classy enough for a light dinner party finisher, sure to leave everyone’s sweet tooth satisfied without weighing them down.
When I say quick, I mean that this is a 2 bowl dessert; the cake is made with one utensil and the batter comes together in 5 minutes if you know your kitchen well; the strawberries roast at the same temperature as the cake and give you just enough time to prep and throw them in and then take them out at the same time as the cake, preventing unnecessary energy waste from an idle oven.
You can serve the cake and compote warm from the oven, so you don’t have to bother with cooling times, and the mascarpone takes all of 30 seconds to whip.
Olive this cake.  Eye really dew.

Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries and Whipped Mascarpone
(that’s a mouthful)
for the cake:
ingredients:
175 g white whole wheat flour (1 1/3 cups)
75 g almond meal (2/3 cup)
12 g baking powder (2 teaspoons)
8 g kosher salt (1 heaping teaspoon)

80 g granulated sugar (1/3 cup)
120 g brown sugar (very loosely packed 2/3 cup)
zest of one orange
135 g F. Oliver’s fresh pressed blood orange extra virgin olive oil (2/3 cup)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140 g freshly squeezed orange juice (2/3 cup), from about 1 1/2 oranges
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with 2 inch sides.  (Alternatively, you could use an 8-inch with 3 inch sides or a 10-inch with 1 1/2 inch sides.)
Whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, place the sugars, orange zest, olive oil, and eggs, and whisk vigorously to combine, about 2 minutes.  Mixture should lighten in color.
Whisk the vanilla extract and orange juice into the sugar mixture.
Whisking constantly, slowly add in the flour mixture.
Mix until batter is homogeneous.  
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is deeply golden and springy to the touch, and a tester comes out with only a couple crumbs.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then unmold from pan and allow to cool fully.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve with balsamic roasted strawberries and whipped mascarpone.

for the strawberries:
ingredients:
260 g chopped strawberries (2 cups)
15 g granulated sugar (1 tablespoon)
20 g F. Oliver’s 18-year old special reserve balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon)
splash vanilla extract
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 (or make these simultaneously to the cake).
Toss strawberries with sugar, vinegar, and vanilla.
Spread out in an even layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until softened and caramelized.  
Strawberries should be slightly sticky.
Stir around to fully coat each strawberry with the sauce, and serve slightly warm.

for the whipped mascarpone:
ingredients:
5 tablespoons mascarpone
3 tablespoons half and half
directions:
Using an immersion blender, food processor, or stand- or hand-mixer, beat mascarpone and half and half together until very fluffy and light.
Store in refrigerator until use; serve chilled.