Heart Friendly Olive Oil Cake with Red Seedless Grapes

For every $10.00 donation to Revive Wellness and their Heart and Stroke Fund Raising Campaign, they will post a heart friendly recipe on their website!

Watching Laura Calder make this cake on TV last week had me propped ready for take off! I had noticed a lot of people using seedless grapes in focaccia recipes that I had wanted to try, but this simple olive oil grape cake recipe is the one that compelled me into my kitchen!

I was pleased to participate when I received the information from Callie at Revive Wellness as I often work to make the recipes we eat regularly at home more heart friendly and do the same when I am teaching at school. My students know to substitute up to half of the fat or oil in a recipe with apple sauce or another fruit purée. And, I had just seen this recipe that I was going to make and felt it would fit the bill! The cake above is the original Laura Cauler recipe not adapted to be heart friendly. I sent the recipe in to Revive Wellness and one of their dietitians revised it to be heart friendly. I actually thought it already was! Great learning experience for me! Below is the heart friendly version. You will see that the crumb is very different on each cake. The heart friendly version has a texture more like a clafouti. They were both very tasty; however, I would say that the heart friendly cake had more flavour and was a considerably tastier cake while the original version had a much more tender texture and a lovely crumb. Balance that with how much better the heart friendly version is for you, and it is a “no brainer”!

The original version is a delicate and quiet cake. One that would be offered to a girl friend for tea or at the end of a light ladies lunch. Not to say a man would not enjoy this cake. He would. It is just not a manly cake. You must use a really lovely olive oil and the one I chose was a DOP from Tuscany. It had a golden fruity depth to it that perfumed the cake. The citrus zests added life and a freshness to it and the grapes were surprisingly unaffected by the baking process. They were little jewels of pleasure that held bursts of unexpected juiciness!

The grapes offered the same pleasure in the heart friendly cake, but the pear used to replace a portion of the olive oil coupled with the citrus zests adds an enigmatic je ne sais quoi that perfumes the cake and introduces unexpected and delightful flavour notes to it. I was definitely going back for more! I had to make both cakes. I wanted to taste Laura Caulder’s version and was too curious to not test the differences side by side. I love tastings and this was a very revealing project for me.

The “usual” photo essay follows with detailed instructions after. Scroll back up as necessary to see the image to go with the text. I made the original cake first. I advise baking it a little longer until it has the lovely brown crust the heart friendly cake popped out of the oven with.

I followed the instructions to a “T” with the first cake and their was a little too much of a crust formed at the time suggested to add the second half of the grapes to the top. Watch your oven and the surface tension of the cake carefully and add them when they will just sink into the cake. This still worked well, as you will see. I also did not use the weight of the grapes in the recipe. Mine may have been smaller.

I confess. I generously brushed the original cake with the olive oil. It was such a beautiful oil, I could not resist. And the crystal sugar just sets off the cake, doesn’t it?

With the heart friendly cake, I barely touched the surface of the cake with the oil, barely enough to hold the sugar, but just enough to hold the sugar. That was the point.

And, guess what? There was absolutely and positively no noticeable difference in each crust that I could discern in taste. I thought the olive oil slathered crust would be melty in my mouthy. They both were!

Laura Caulder’s Olive Oil Cake with Red Seedless Grapes Recipe with the heart friendly substitutions adapted for the Thermomix!

* 140g (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil , more for brushing (95g) 1/2 cup EVOO and 1/4 cup puréed pears
* Zest and juice of 1 lemon
* Zest of 1 orange
* 150g (1 cup) cake flour
* 5 eggs, separated 8 eggs: 5 whites in one bowl and 2 yolks and 3 whites in the other bowl (you will have three extra yolks)
* 150g (3/4 cup sugar) and more for sprinkling
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 9 ounces seedless red grapes, more to taste (optional)

Instructions:(proceed as per original recipe, substituting as required)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F/180°C; rub a 9-inch/23-cm spring-form pan with olive oil and line the bottom with a parchment paper
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and ribbony
  3. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and both zests
  4. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  5. Beat the egg whites with the salt to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter. Fold in half the grapes.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining grapes onto the top of the cake and continue to bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  8. Cool on a rack, then unmould.

Brush the top generously extra virgin olive oil and scatter over coarse sugar.

Instructions for Thermomix

  1. Heat oven to 350°F/180°C.; rub a 9-inch/23-cm spring-form pan with olive oil and line the bottom with a parchment paper
  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt to soft peaks with the butterfly inserted for 2 minutes at speed 4; set aside, and clean the TM bowl
  3. Scale sugar into the TM bowl, add yolks and insert the butterfly; whip for 4 minutes at speed 3-4
  4. Scale in the olive oil, lemon juice and both zests
  5. Scale in the flour; stir to combine for 10 seconds at speed 2; use the spatula to ensure all is mixed in and stir for 5 seconds more, if necessary
  6. Add whites to bowl; weigh 125g grapes and gently fold together inside TM bowl by hand, pour into spring form pan and fold more, if necessary
  7. Bake for  20 minutes; scale remaining grapes while baking
  8. Sprinkle the remaining grapes onto the top of the cake and continue to bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake
  9. Cool on a rack, then unmould; brush the top generously extra virgin olive oil and scatter over coarse sugar
  10. Garnish with a little sprig of grapes dusted with powdered sugar and a swirl of olive oil on the plate

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    • Valerie says

      Actually, I agree. A cake is a whole other entity without the icing, isn’t it truly? The icing is like a party dress and the cake is all decked out for a more special occasion, certainly, and definitely with a greater impact upon one’s physique! I do not feel the guilt eating this kind of cake that I feel eating one all dressed up for the ball. So true!

  1. says

    Very Very beautiful cake dotted with grapes all over.I have never dared to try olive oil in baking till nw.But I have seen lot of recipes around.I would love to have a slice of your cake with coffee right now. Its awesome that you baked for a great cause.

    • Valerie says

      We certainly think alike! I will make that one, too! it looks divine. Laura Calder most definitely got her idea from this creation, and without you – I would have not known that it is a very traditional cake made quite differently that this one, but clearly there are more similarities than differences. I like the height of that one. The addition of the Muscat makes great sense in a grape cake. Thank you SO much!

  2. says

    I don’t make a lot of cakes, but I do love using olive oil in cakes like this. The grapes are lovely too. You’ve put lots into the comparison with this one Val., kudos to you – isn’t it interesting that you couldn’t taste the difference huh. Nice work.

    • Valerie says

      Anna –
      There was an incredible difference in the taste and texture of the two cakes. You can see the texture difference in the photos. It was the crust slathered with the extra olive oil compared to the one so lightly touched with it where I could not taste any difference. That’s all!

  3. says

    This is quite an interesting cake to me as I’ve never had a cake with grapes in it. You always make baking look so easy and your baked goods are always so beautiful. Oh if I could only bake half as good as you. I know it will come with time though. As for the other half, I’m not too sure 😉 teehee. I love the way the powdered sugar gives a frosty look to the grapes, and the picture of the cake brushed with olive oil is gorgeous. Great idea to substitute the olive oil with pear purée. I’ll bet this tasted wonderful. So does Vanja walk into the house and ask, “so what am I taste testing today?”? Ha! Lucky lucky man!
    March 13 works for me!

    • Valerie says

      LQ: First, it wasn’t powdered sugar I used, it was a special crystal sugar. You can see that the crystals are larger and they glisten more which is a great asset when wanting a crunchy pretty topping. Second, never substitute all of the fat with a fruit purée. But, you can substitute up to half of the fat in a recipe with a fruit purée or a yogurt. Sour cream is a fat, so would not be substituting a fat for something less fatty.
      Last, Vanja walks in the house like this, “Is there any dinner tonight, or do I get to eat more cooking experiments?”

      • says

        Oh, I thought I read powdered sugar. Shows you how much I bake huh? Thanks for those tips!
        I can definitely see Vanja saying that. Lol. You two are too cute!

  4. says

    What a great post! I’ve never thought of baking with grapes before, but it sounds and looks delicious. I also love olive oil cakes, so I can’t wait to make this recipe with your healthy substitutions. Thank you for sharing yet another delicious and beautiful recipe. I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a relaxing weekend!

  5. says

    Two thumbs up to you for having a kind heart to bake for a good course. Your cake looks stunning and have no doubt it will taste delicious. Not that I know how to bake a lot of cakes but I have never baked any cake with olive oil before. This recipe is a keeper and so is the kind hearted baker:D Have a nice weekend.

  6. says

    I have tried a laura Calder Olive Oil Cake but do love the addition of grapes. I still have some frozen BC Coronation grapes in the freezer so may see a cake in my future. The thing is I am trying to avood sweets…seriously not working for me:D I prize the texture of an olive oil cake so substituting changes the concept for me, but I am sure it made a lovely cake.

    • Valerie says

      Substituting absolutely changes the texture – but, there are many many people working toward that heart healthy life style – and this is a lovely alternative to the original for them. It is definitely not the standard olive oil cake when heart friendly, but it is most definitely delicious!

  7. says

    Beautiful beautiful cake Valerie – I just did one with grapes recently but am soooo behind on everything with the recent loss in our family…barely keeping it together.

    The sugar crust is a marvelous idea.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  8. says

    I am so delighted by this, Valerie! I’ve never baked with grapes before – and now I can’t imagine why not. :-) Both cakes are beautiful – and the frosted grapes make me smile and feel like I’ve stepped into the gorgeous pages of Victoria magazine. Well done! :-)

  9. says

    Why would anyone not opt for the healthier version when it looks and tastes just as good! I love the idea of the pureed pears too and the grapes – even more healthy! Great recipe changes!

    • Valerie says

      I know it is so hard to read everything in a post. It doesn’t taste “just as good.” It actually tastes better, but the texture is less pleasing. To me, anyway. But, yes, exactly – why?

  10. says

    Not only does that cake look so incredibly appealing…I’m sure that with those key changes for a better, healthier cake…I would enjoy every single bite ;o)

    Valerie, thanks for making the efforts for us to be able to apply some of your interesting tips.

    Flavourful wishes,

  11. says

    This cake is stunning! I have tried olive oil cakes before, liked them fine (with orange) but this one looks just so stylish! I am sure the grapes could be substituted for, say, some cherries or raspberries?

  12. says

    It was the twinkling crystals of sugar on the cake and grape cluster that caught my eye before I even knew it was an olive oil cake. Such a beauty – who needs icing and swirls?? This makes me really want to get out my bottle of olive oil!!

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