savoury delights sweet delights

bread? sweet bread? cake?

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I told you about Mastering Spice, a new book in my library. So I made the next try to recreate something out of the book. I stumbled over a recipe for an olive oil based loaf cake.

The book is so organized that there is a main recipe & following there are some variations. I found the recipe for the olive oil cake loaf & a variation w/ additional dried fruit. Each version relied on another spice blend.

So what did I do?

I skipped the idea of adding dried fruit thinking it might be interesting just comparing the resulting flavors out of different spice blends.

The whole baking went well; I got wonderful fluffy cakes – evenly baked & totally soft.
(This means also that the relation of flour, eggs, oil, milk is well-balanced!)



I’ve got 2 loaf tins (25 cm w/ 1,7 l) & decided to bake the loafs simultaneously. The recipe works w/ a loaf tin (20 cm / 1,4 l). I thought: well, then the loaf will be not so high … & it worked well. The smaller loaf tin of the recipe even might have been a little too small.

Oh … if you wonder why the cakes have different colors … it’s only because of the different spice blends.

So let’s work on 2 process chains … simultaneously …

We start w/ mixing:

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt.


For the record:
If you wonder about the color of the baking powder: the baking powder comes w/ saffron.



Then we allocate:

  • sugar
  • eggs
  • olive oil
  • milk
  • oranges.

Concerning the sugar: I only worked with about 70 % of the sugar amount of the original recipe.


For the record:
I usually reduce the amount of sugar in any cakes & desserts by somewhat in between 10% to 30%. Only if the blog post or the cookbook presenting the recipe tells me that the sugar is already reduced compared to former approach (& I think that it seems fine!) I start following the recipe.



At least now you should start your oven; preheat it to 160° C w/ fan. You also should prepare the loaf tins by lining them w/ baking parchment. Do it the way that you can lift the cake loaf easily out of the tin after the oven session.


For the record:
The recipe asked for 375° F w/o fan & 1 h baking time.
This means about 190° C w/o fan & 1 h baking time.
This means about 170° C w/ fan & 50 min baking time.
I decided to use 160° C w/ fan – my usual baking temperature.
When checking after 40 min w/ a wooden pin I decided to give it another 10 min.


W/ your handheld electric mixer we whisk together sugar, eggs, olive oil & milk.



We grate the oranges & add some orange juice.



Now we deal w/ the spice blends. We’ve got:

  • ground cardamom
  • ground mace
  • ground cloves

& on the other side:

  • ground ginger
  • ground fennel
  • ground black pepper.

I had all spices in ground state except of fennel. I bought fennel seeds, put them in my manually operated coffee grinder (see here) & had ground fennel afterwards.

You may notice that we deal w/ rather strong & pungent spices – not spices you’ll assume to use in a cake. As a result you can be sure that the cake is more savory than sweet. As a whole it’s more like a bread … except for the texture.

Now, however, we mix the flour mess w/ the spice blend.



We combine the dry mess w/ the liquid mess …

We add some alcohol:

  • dark rum to the fennel-pepper-ginger blend
  • aperol to the cardamom-mace-clove blend.

The dough is rather runny – it’s ok.

We pour it into the loaf tins & into the preheated oven.



50 min later we’ve got 2 nice, soft, fluffy loafs!



From the texture it’s a cake.
From the spices it’s a bread.
From the sugar & the spices it’s a sweet bread.

You may choose how to call it.

The spice blends are overwhelming … although there is a distinctive difference in the flavour. It’s best to eat slices of the cake w/ some butter or plain yoghurt on top.

By the book I should have roasted some of the spices & afterwards grind them which should assure even more flavour. I’m honest: The cakes/sweet breads/breads are delicious, but for me they are somewhat too flavorful. Especially the orange flavour & the alcohol vanish in the background. Before starting I had some doubts about the amounts of spices, but I decided to do it along to the recipe.


Coming back to the cookbook:
In general I noticed that spices are used generously. (I would have used less of the spices for my cakes – & I’ll do in future.) The spice blends suggested in the cookbook seem interesting – & I’m sure I’ll test them in future. (Especially there is a spiced blend suggested for chicken breads which sounds just great …)





bread? sweet bread? cake?
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Servings: 20
for the dough (each cake):
  • 240 g all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g olive oil
  • 150 g milk
  • zest of an organic orange
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
for the flavour (dark cake):
  • 2 tbsp aperol
  • tsp ground cardamom
  • tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp mace
for the flavour (light cake):
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • tsp ground fennel
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 loaf tins (25 cm)
  • electric handheld mixer
  • manually operated coffee grinder
how to:
  • Preheat the oven to 160° C w/ fan.
  • Mix flour & baking powder & salt; fill 2 bowls - each for a loaf.
  • W/ your electric handheld mixer whip the eggs, add the sugar, add the olive oil & the milk; fill 2 bowls - each for a loaf.
  • Grate the organic orange & add to the egg mess - an orange per bowl.
  • Add orange juice ...
  • Ground the fennel seeds & mix w/ the rest of the spice blend.
  • Add alcohol & spice blends to the bowls w/ the egg mess; so creating different cakes.
  • Line the loaf tins w/ baking parchment.
  • Pour the dough into the loaf tins.
  • Let them bake in the oven for about 40 - 50 min.
  • Make the famous test w/ the wooden pin after about 40 min & decide ...
  • Let the cakes rest for 10 - 15 min; afterwards lift out the cakes & let them cool completely.
You may store the cakes on the kitchen counter for about 2 - 3 days.
You may freeze slices of the cakes; let them defrost on your kitchen counter.
I used the amounts of spices suggested in the recipe
For me it’s too overwhelming - so I like to suggest to use only half of the amounts ...
(This doesn’t mean that the cakes were unenjoyable ... & I’m sure that there are people loving a real spice kick ... )


(information on equipment)