Olive Oil-Sherry Pound Cake and A Chance to Win Aussie Olive Oil Samples

Like wines, olive oils have a myriad of flavors and aromas.

The more robust tasting the olive oil — with an intense bitterness and astringency on the nose and palate — the more antioxidants it has. It also will keep longer — even five years — than milder tasting olive oils, which should be consumed within a few months of pressing.

Use pungent extra virgin olive oils when you want them to be the focal point, such as in salads or as a finishing touch to dishes or just to dunk chunks of crusty bread in. Use mild olive oils in cooking when you don’t want its flavor to dominate.

Those were among the olive oil lessons I learned on my recent trip to Australia with a small group of food journalists. We were guests of Boundary Bend Ltd., which makes Australia’s premier extra virgin olive oils under its Cobram Estate label.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to taste a variety of just-pressed oils. After choosing our favorite varietal, we were each given a precious little bottle to take home.

While most of my colleagues opted for the more potent tasting oils, I chose the Manzanillo, a more delicate, fruity, and almost creamy tasting oil with the intriguing scent of strawberry jam.

My hosts said it was ideal for baking. And they were correct, as it tasted lovely in the “Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake” that I made when I returned home.

The recipe is from “Pure Dessert” (Artisan) by Berkeley’s renowned baker, Alice Medrich.

A whole cup of extra virgin olive oil, as well as a cup of sherry, goes into the batter. Olive oil cakes tend to bake up super moist, and this one was no exception. Do as I did, if you like, and dust the top of the cake with a shower of powdered sugar before serving.

This is a classic cake with a subtle complexity and richness from the olive oil, as well as a whisper of nuttiness from the sherry and a zing of citrus from grated orange zest.

It proved a most fitting finale for my coveted Australian souvenir.

Food Gal Contest: How would you like to win your own bottles of award-winning Cobram Estate extra virgin olive oils from Australia?

Four lucky Food Gal readers will be able to do just that. Each will win a box of five bottles — one each of Cobram Estate’s “Light & Delicate,” ”Fresh & Fruity,” “Rich & Robust,” “Lemon Twist,” and “Garlic Crush” extra virgin olive oil blends.

Just give me your best answer to this question: “Whether you’ve been to Australia or not, what fascinates you most about the land Down Under?”

The contest is open only to those in the continental United States. Deadline to enter is the end of the day, July 17. The four winners will be announced July 19.

Here’s my own answer to that question: “The people. They look like the healthiest, happiest people on Earth, with glowing skin, the most easy-going nature, endless charm and a wry sense of humor that you can’t help but warm to. Is it any wonder that after one visit, I was ready to move there for good?”

Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake

(Serves 16)

Alice Medrich writes, “This cake improves after a day or two, and toasted slices are nice for breakfast even as much as a week later.”

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup flavorful extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)

5 large cold eggs

1 cup medium (amontillado) sherry


A 10- to 12-cup tube or Bundt pan or two 8-by-4-inch (4 cups) loaf pans

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the pans. (Or if you prefer, line the bottom and sides of the loaf pans with parchment.)

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly in a large bowl and sift together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (with the whisk attachment if you have one), beat the sugar, oil, and orange zest on high speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; continue to beat until the mixture is thick and pale, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop mixer and add one-third of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. Stop the mixer and add half the sherry. Beat just until blended. Repeat with another third of the flour, followed by the remaining sherry, and then the remaining flour.

Scrape batter into pan(s). Bake until cake tester comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes for either the tube pan or the loaves. Cool cake in the pan(s) on a rack for about 15 minutes before unmolding.

If using a tube pan, slide a skewer around the tube. If the sides of the pan are straight, slide a thin knife or spatula around the sides to release the cake (unless lined with paper). If using a Bundt or other decorative pan, tap one side of the pan against the counter to release the cake, then tap the other side. Invert the cake onto a rack. Turn the preferred side up before cooling the cake completely. Wrapped airtight, the cake keeps well at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

From “Pure Dessert” by Alice Medrich

More: How They’re Revolutionizing Olive Oil-Making in Australia

More: Alice Medrich’s Nibby Pecan Cookies

More: Alice Medrich’s Sesame Seed Cake

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  • no i missed your post on the olive oil class trip. i will go back and read it. how fascinating that an olive oil can have an undertone of strawberry? wow. i never knew this, but then again i did, just never saw it. oh how i miss california and all the food adventures.

  • The pound cake looks delightful! I want some 🙂

  • What fascinates me most about the land down under? The beaches. The natural beauty and serenity that the Gold Coast offers is undeniably gorgeous. How could anyone living or visiting the coasts of Australia not be contagiously giddy. The sunkissed skin and hair of the people creates a glow in the atmosphere that could be bottled and sold. We should bottle and sell Australian sunshine in attempt to spread some happiness worldwide.

  • Never been to Australia but heard a lot abt the culture-enriched Melbourne city with their exhibitions and stage shows and also how the city is a feast for the eyes during winter.Am longing to go to this beautiful place…Thanks for this giveaway though!!!


  • You were here? What a pity that I didn’t know. I would have loved to meet you. Maybe next time when you move here permanently lol! Beautiful cake. It has such a classy and stunning look. I have never tried olive oil cake. That will change now!

  • The Aboriginal tribes fascinate me the most. I studied anthropology in school and I’d love to learn more about the different tribes, customs,languages and habits. That is, when/if I get a chance to visit. 🙂
    Plus, I had spent some time with some Aussies and they’re one of the funniest, easy-going folks on earth.

  • The food culture. Everything I read about Australia makes their food sound so good, and fascinating!

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  • I love the sound of your oil!

  • Beautiful cake, and the oil you chose sounds delicious.

    I’m most fascinated with Australians accents. I have a theory that people have more fun when they have Australian accents. (but I’m terrible at imitating it)

  • I’ve been there a few times and each time different part of Australia. I am most facinated by their farm land. I just love to see the sheeps grasing the grass especially at Adelaide.

  • Wow, that is so beautiful! I just love tasting olive oils and noting the differences between the various ones.
    I have never been to Australia, but I am intrigued by their landscape. They have such a wealth of beautiful open spaces in addition to fabulous cities and thousands of miles of beaches!

  • Gorgeous cake and wonderful oils!

    So many things fascinate me about Australia — the people, the history and culture, and the beaches. I love those beautiful glorious waves.

  • Australia is definitely on my list. I am fascinated by the contrasts in art and culture, as well as the variety in terrain. The first time a friend came back with photos I was astounded that a place I pictured as barren like Ayers Rock and with those giant termite mounds, also had jungles and tropical birds. I want to see it all!

  • a very healthy cake, lovely! I like the use of olive oil on cakes!

  • I am putting this on my to-make list. Sounds absolutely delicious.

    I’ve never been to Australia but I would love to go. I’ve heard that Australians are warm, open, and laid-back–three of my favorite characteristics in people!

  • The olive oil cake is awesome. My Italian nonna makes a similar one (she uses orange or lemon juice instead of sherry). See my post here: http://www.ztastylife.com/2010/02/lemon-and-olive-oil-cake-torta-allolio.html.

    …as far as your questions: “Whether you’ve been to Australia or not, what fascinates you most about the land Down Under?” well, I have never been there but have this mythical idealized imagery of it. I love the openness of the land and the people, the laid back spirit, the awesome Aussie wines, the “songlines” (reference: one of my favorite travel book by Bruce Chatwin), the biggest, most amazing coral reef (which I would love to scuba dive one day), Donna Hay’s food, and all my good friends from down-under…they are so relaxed to be around, it’s like an instant vacation of the mind!

  • I’ve come to the realization that olive oil is much like bacon. They both blend well with virtually anything!

  • hehe this isn’t an entry but I really liked the manzanillo variety too! And what a lovely comment about Australian people! 😀 And I love that cake too 🙂

  • I’ve made this olive oil sherry pound cake before and it was heavenly! And yours turned out so beautifully!
    I’ve never been to Australia. To me, when I think of Australia, I think of magnificent landscapes, which definitely fascinate me!

  • i love the perceived dichotomy of the country. Even from me. I’ve never been and I picture the sophisticated Sydney opera house on one end and the wild outback on the other. Its been my dream to visit since i could remember and hopefully one day I will.

  • (not an entry but) What fascinates me most about Australia? As an Australian who has not lived there for 16 years, it never ceases to amaze me how fascinated people are with my country of birth. And why I left and why I have no plans to move back… 😉

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  • What a fantastic looking cake. I love olive oil cakes, they have the most beautiful and moist textures.
    *kisses* HH

  • Their wine and their spices. Oh, and the pav roll.

  • the animals! i want a pet kangaroo, darn it! and if it can box and earn me some ill-gotten moola, well, more the better. 🙂

  • The cake looks delicious! I will have to try it after my boyfriend and I finish off the chocolate cake I decided to make when it was 80+ degrees inside our apartment.

    I’m an anthropology and journalism major, so although you already said it, the people fascinate me the most about Australia! I don’t know what it is about–perhaps the fact that they were so far removed from the government in England, but they seem so relaxed, down to earth, and welcoming. I’ll bet the amazing scenery also keeps them pretty happy too. I would love to go visit some day, but on a college student’s budget, winning some oil from Oz may be the closest I get for a while!

  • Balmain Bugs..reason enough to travel the 21 hours from NY to Sydney again…sauteed in shallots and olive oil, with lime..overlooking Manly Beach on an Australian summers’ day in February a few years ago…besides the sunny disposition of the locals, it was an amazing travel/food experience…watching surfers at 6pm…as the sunset, and finished the meal with a Pavlova…but the Balmain Bug, that local Sydney seafood delicacy is my favorite Australian memory!

  • Waking up in my hostel and saying to my friend, “We’re going to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef today!”, hiking to the point where Steve Irwin died. Driving on the left side of the road and having a wallaby run across. Stopping to see wild koalas lounging in the tree, so close we thought they were animatronic. Sadly recounting that the only kangaroo I saw was dead on the side of the road. Saying “TA,” trying to fit in, but feeling ridiculous…even if it is custom there.

    My memories can be thought of as stereotypical – kangaroos, koalas, the Great Barrier Reef…but God gives everybody 24 hours in a day and I felt the way I experienced them were unique to me in ways that only I can remember.

  • Oh my gosh, this cake sounds just like heaven with the olive oil, citrus and sherry. I must make it soon, good excuse or no!

  • Contest is now closed. The winners will be announced tomorrow.

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  • Curious where is this olive oil dish from? I’m obsessed!

  • Hi Gloria: It is a super cute dish and so hand. It was actually gifted to me years ago from an olive oil producer. You can find it, and variations on it, on this site: https://www.olivequeen.com/store/p15/Olive_Oil_Dipping_Dish.html

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