Blue Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Italian Plums & Ricotta Cheese


There is a place in Boulder where you can go and get the most mind-blowing pastries and coffee.  The people who work at Aion are true artists and it is pure pleasure to take part in their craft.  Having been gluten-free for the past year, I hadn’t been to Aion for a long time.  I knew that when I broke my gluten-free fast it would be with one of the delicious croissants at Aion.  Well, it was time and when I went online to reacquaint myself with their hours, I found a Traditional Olive Oil Cake in their list of confections.  I was immediately enamored.  After all my ancestry is part Italian, (my maiden name is Ferraro) and I am often drawn to cook foods from Italy not only because I love Italian food but because I feel closer to my roots.  I had never heard of Olive Oil Cake and I made an excited mental note to make one soon.  



Then a few days later, I received a newsletter from Food 52 with a recipe for “Olive Oil Ricotta Cake With Plums” and there it was again, Olive Oil Cake.  We have an abundance of Italian plums from a beautiful little tree in our backyard which would be perfect for this cake.  Also, I love to cook with ricotta cheese.  It is full of protein and has such a delicate flavor.  


The weather finally changed this week from relentless 90+ degrees to a cool rainy bliss.  The perfect baking weather.  Because I love to experiment and have a hard time following just one recipe, I used the Food 52 recipe as a starting point and researched a few more Italian Olive Oil cake recipes.  Plus I wanted to make the cake gluten-free and as healthy as possible so I needed more resources.  (I love to bake healthy desserts.)  So, after a bit of trial and error this is the yumminess I came up with.  I still haven’t tried a Traditional Olive Oil cake, so I honestly don’t know how this compares.  I can tell you that this recipe makes an extremely moist, tasty cake that is not overly sweet.  In fact it would be lovely for breakfast or a kid-friendly afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  


~ Ingredients ~ 

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar, I used sucanat which dehydrated sugar cane and retains more of the vitamin content present in sugar cane.  It does have a strong molasses flavor which I love.  You can substitute another sugar if you’d like. 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from one orange and zest from two oranges, organic please!
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup blue corn meal
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 6 to 10 plums, cut in half with pits removed

~ Instructions ~ 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9" round pan with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.  Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Then add the ricotta, olive oil, orange juice & zest, and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.  Finally fold in the cornmeal, almond flour, salt and baking soda.  Pour into prepared pan and top with the plum halves.  Sprinkle sugar over the top of the cake if you would like  Bake for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

Now I have come across a reference to Rosemary Olive Oil Cake topped with Sweetened Mascarpone and another with orange and rosemary, oh my goodness, my obsession continues…

Here are the various recipes I used for inspiration: