Sunday, July 31, 2011

Orange Basil Olive Oil Bundt Cake

The most basic rule of baking (or life for that matter): mise en place—everything in place. Measuring and setting all your ingredients out before you start mixing ensures that you never have to run to the fridge in the middle of mixing to grab some milk, only to realize that the milk is suppose to be at room temperature. It’s happened to me more than I can count. Thank goodness the microwave was invented. 

The only time I follow the rule is when I grease or flour my cake pan before I start mixing ingredients. I hate stopping at the end, my beautiful cake batter waiting impatiently while I’m squandering time buttering the pan. At that point, all I want is for the cake to bake so I can eat it already. So the first thing I did before mixing any ingredients together for the Orange Basil Olive Oil Bundt Cake was look for a bundt pan in my cluttered pan cupboard. Yeah, we have two entire cupboards dedicated to the various cookies sheets, muffin tins, cake pans, pie plates, and ramekins I’ve amassed over the years. As it turned out, I didn’t have a bundt pan, a disappointing fact, since the reason this cake is called a bundt cake is because it is baked in a special kind of pan. I used a tube pan instead, figuring that the hole in the middle at least resembled that of a bundt pan.  

Obviously, I need to read the recipe more thoroughly and check for necessary equipment and ingredients before I start mixing ingredients because the cake pan wasn’t the only substitution I had to make. After beating the egg yolks until they were thick and ribbony, I reached into the cupboard to pull out the cane sugar. I only had ¾ cup left, but luckily, I found some brown sugar that I could use. Immediately after the under-sweetened bundt cake brick crisis was averted, I realized that I also didn’t have yogurt. Okay, I thought, it’s okay because I have just enough milk left and some lemon juice to make sour milk. 

My planned addition (unlike all the last minute substitutions) to the bundt cake was basil-infused olive oil. My inspiration was drawn from Elissa’s post about a Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake, something so deceptively simple, yet delicious. How often is basil paired with olive oil, in omelettes, salads, soups, and the like? To infuse the olive oil in this cake with a handful of fresh basil leaves is a clever way of adding subtle flavour. The basil perfumes the oil with its sweet essence and brings out the citrusy notes of the orange zest, lending a mysterious undertone to this Orange Basil Olive Oil Bundt Cake.

Click below for notes on the recipe.

I baked this cake as a part of the BAKED Sunday Mornings online baking group and as requested by the rules, I’m not going to post the recipe on my blog (but you can find it here). However, I want to list the ingredient substitutions and additions.

Orange Basil Olive Oil Bundt Cake

  • 3 cups soft unbleached (cake) flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated,
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed, washed and dried
  • freshly grated zest of two oranges
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting

In place of the yogurt, I used a tablespoon of lemon juice and fifteen tablespoons of milk, which I stired together and let stand for about five minutes until it soured.

I tend to cut back the sugar in cake recipes (because they often turn out too sweet), so I used ½ a cup less in this recipe. Since I didn’t have enough cane sugar, I used brown sugar as well.

I also infused the olive oil with basil. In a food processor, I pureed the basil leaves with the oil for about half a minute. I then strained the basil leaves out (because I was pretty sure that the cake would have turned green otherwise) and used the olive oil as directed. Don’t throw out the pureed basil leaves; they would make a great addition to an omelette or soup. 


  1. The basil and the lemon juice sound like such a nice touch!

  2. I can totally relate. I often start baking projects before I check to make sure I have everything I need. Just think of it as an adventure!

  3. love your presentation on the polka dot plates! so pretty :)

  4. This looks great...mmm orange and basil! Sounds delish! :) Beautiful photo.

  5. This cake looks so pretty! The combination of the orange and basil flavors sounds so interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Did you get the "mise en place" from Alice Medrich? I've been reading through her Pure Dessert book and have basically been obsessed with her lately. :D If that's where you got it from it's nice to see another Medrich fan! :D

    But I'm like you-- and yes, thank goodness for the microwave.


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