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Delicious winter dessert: Sauternes-olive oil cake with dried fruit compote

Sir Gawain | Jan 23, 200612:57 PM

All of Saturday I was flipping through cookbooks and magazines, suffering agonies of indecision about what to make for dessert for a couple of friends who were going to come over Sunday night. The matter was finally decided by the 2 lbs of various dried fruits sitting on the kitchen counter since Christmas - I'd bought them planning to make some sort of cookies with them, then ran out of time. I also had half a bottle of very good (but rather sweet) Auslese riesling in the fridge. This would kill two birds with one stone.

The cake recipe (by Lindsey Shere, of Chez Panisse) is on the web in a million copies, for example here:
http://www.recipesource.com/desserts/..., or just google "olive oil and sauternes cake"). I have to say that the 20cm/8 in. form was WAY too small for this amount of batter (so I made a second baby cake for testing purposes...), so I'll use a 9" form next time; also, I thought that 6 whites instead of the 7 would have suffices, making a slightly denser crumb which, to me, would be just fine. But it was delicious: such a delicate, not-too-sweet flavor, such a moist, light crumb!

The accompanying dried fruit compote (I used raisins, pears, and apricots) poached in dry white wine and flavored with citrus oil (the recipe calls for peels) was - sorry to pat myself on the back for this one - really the *perfect* accompaniment: jewel-like fruits coated in a citrusy, sweet glaze with a delicious boozy undertone. Recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

The whole thing tasted fantastic and looked beautiful (sorry, I was embarrassed to take pix in front of my guests; next time...) It was such a nice wintry dessert, simple to make (the compote is a breeze to whip up while the cake is baking.) And of course, you treat yourself to any remaining wine while thus engaged.

Only when I tasted the cake I realized it was actually a variation on a chiffon cake, only with wine as the main liquid and olive oil instead of a neutral cooking oil. It made me want to try using white wine in other baking recipes, since it imparts a delicious, subtle hint of yeastiness (I loooove yeast-raised doughs, but they do require time); I love wine in my Xmas cookies made only with butter, wine and flour, then rolled in sugar... there's got to be other ways to bake with wine. I'll keep you posted.

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