Most of you know I’ve had to go dairy free while nursing Carter due to his intolerance to the protein in cow’s milk. The first few weeks were a tad shocking and I had myself a little pity party. No cheese or butter? You have to be kidding me! It’s okay, it’s short term, I’ll figure it out. I’ll just eat this sandwich. But wait, there is dairy in EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING I TELL YOU! Scott would come home from work in those first few weeks, I’d be in tears, Carter’d be in tears, and I’d just hand off the baby and go cry.
I’m kind of like a baby. I don’t do well when I don’t eat. I whine a lot. There might be a melt down or two. And I can’t sleep well. Yep. Juuuuuust like a baby. After collecting myself, I’d come back in and Scott would say “what did you eat today?” The water works would resume and I’d say (all pathetic-like) “a sleeve of saltines” booooohoooo. I seemed to have a difficult time finding foods to eat while holding a baby who refused to be set down in those first 6 weeks (he literally slept ON me (or scott or mimi) for the first 6 weeks – oh, those days were sweet, but it was hard to take care of myself and let him sleep).
One Saturday I was busy feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t have queso with my college football and my husband disappeared. I noticed his car was gone and thought he had just gotten sick of me and needed a break. I was whiney, I tell you. The next thing I know, in walks my knight with three huge bags of groceries. And guess what? Not one of the items contained dairy. He scoured the aisles and read hundreds of labels to find healthy quick snacks, some junk food, and some delicious fresh produce (duh). Then he made me lunch. I got some calories and collected myself. And all was better.
Once I got over the initial hump of figuring out how to avoid dairy products, I started trying to get a little creative. Olive oil really is kind of buttery. It goes nicely in potatoes (Thanksgiving dinner without creamy mashed potatoes is not Thanksgiving dinner), can replace butter on toast, and can be used for the cooking and roasting of any vegetable. It’s got less saturated fat to boot.
Anyway, when we were in Italy, I saw olive oil cake on a lot of menus. I didn’t get it. I couldn’t quite grasp the flavor and wasn’t willing to try it, but I kept hearing friends and others talk about how great it was. So I finally decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. It doesn’t taste overly olive oily. In fact, you would barely know. It’s velvety like an angel food cake, but heavier like a pound cake. It’s lightly sweet and a little buttery. Delicious!
Lemon Olive-Oil Cake
Gourmet via Epicurious
3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
1 large lemon
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Special equipment: a 9-inch (24-cm) springform pan; parchment paper
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment.
Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.
Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.