I recently had the opportunity to visit Round Pond Estate in the Napa Valley. Round Pound is a gorgeous property in the heart of Rutherford, CA, flanked by beautiful vineyards on all sides and unbelievable views from its outdoor patio. I was lucky enough to enjoy an amazing lunch on that patio, complete with an olive oil and red wine vinegar tasting. It was such a fun experience! Round Pond presses its own extra-virgin olive oil using olives picked from their very own trees. Our guide told us that these olives are rarely off of the tree for longer than forty minutes before they make their way to the olive press. Now that’s fresh olive oil! We tasted the Italian Varietal Extra-Virgin Olive Oil as well as their signature flavored oils including Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon, Garlic, Basil, Lemon Pepper, Rosemary and Chili. Heeeeaaaa-vvvvennnnn. We were taught how to inhale and essentially slurp the oil down in order to get the right taste. So fun. I could have grabbed a loaf of bread and gone to town and that would have been enough for me, but it got even more interesting when we started tasting their red wine vinegars and artisan syrups. So much goodness.
We were served a beautiful lunch from Round Pond’s on-site garden, each course highlighting the olive oils and vinegars we had just tasted. It was divine. The main course was nothing more than a BLT, but when you have a garden-fresh BLT in Napa made with sweet heirloom tomatoes, peppery arugula and slow cooked pork belly, you’ll never look at that simple sandwich the same way again. It was slap-your-sommelier-good. The meal ended with olive oil pound cake and vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with blood-orange olive oil. Holy yum. One bite in and I knew I would be making it in my kitchen the first chance I got. I may not have Round Pond’s garden in my backyard to recreate that entire lunch, but by golly I can have a jar of their Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. I found a few recipes for Olive Oil pound cake online and played with them until I had a version that sounded like it would produce the tangy, super-moist, subtly sweet cake from the Estate. I LOVE the way this cake turned out. Some may think it doesn’t rise enough, but I really like the way it comes out because it’s perfect for a delicate little slice of cake in the afternoon.
If you don’t have a chance to get to Napa, bring Napa to you. Get the best extra-virgin olive oil you can get your hands on- maybe even try Round Pond’s Italian Varietal– and make yourself this cake. It will do the trick; instantly transporting you to a breezy patio overlooking grapevines as far as the eye can see. Now that’s a happy Monday!
Olive Oil and Chardonnay Pound Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons half and half
¾ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup good chardonnay
3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan with parchment paper, butter the pan and the paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg yolks, granulated sugar, and lemon zest. Beat at medium speed until the mixture thickens, is pale yellow, and forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted, 3-4 minutes. Allow to sit.
- In a separate bowl, beat (or, whisk) the egg white to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, milk, Greek yogurt, and chardonnay. Slowly drizzle in the oil mixture with the mixture in the electric mixer with the machine running. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix just to combine. Add in the butter and mix just to combine.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the stiff egg whites.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake, rotating the pan once after 25 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden, the center bounces back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 45 minutes.)
- Carefully remove the cake from the loaf pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Adapted from lovetobeinthekitchen.com.