Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest Author Rosemary Harris: Olive Oil Cake

Rosemary Harris has been mentioned by me frequently on this blog. I met her at the Love is Murder conference a few years ago, and found her writing to be as smart and funny as she is. She is responsible for the fabulous banana recipes and other memorable things I've written about here. I am delighted to let you know about her new book Dead Head - officially in the stores! Please welcome Rosemary back to VC. - Amy

Paula Holliday, the heroine of my latest book Dead Head, is a gardener not a chef or a baker – but she does like to eat, usually at Babe’s Paradise Diner where the menu has gotten a whole lot better since the cook, affectionately known as Pete #2, discovered the Food Network. It’s true he started out simply ogling the women, Giada in particular, but when he began testing the recipes he discovered he had a knack for baking. Paula’s his unofficial taste-taster and when she gives something a thumbs-up business at the Paradise picks up considerably.

In Dead Head, the third Dirty Business mystery, Paula realizes she doesn’t know her neighbors as well as she thinks she does when one of her clients is arrested for being a fugitive who’s been on the run for decades. In fact, she’s at the diner digging into this cake when she receives a surprising call.. check out the fun, animated trailer to, um…get a taste of Dead Head.



Almond Citrus Olive oil cake

Recipe Giada De Laurenttiis



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 teaspoons lemon zest 1/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted, coarsely crumbled

Powdered sugar, for sifting

Citrus Compote:

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

3/4 teaspoon orange blossom water,

optional 3 oranges, segmented

2 pink grapefruits, segmented


To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-inch-diameter cake pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the milk. Gradually beat in the oil. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Place cake pan on baking pan to collect any possible spills. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 35-50 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes. Remove cake and place on serving platter, top side up. Sift powdered sugar over the cake.

To make the citrus compote: Stir the orange peel, blossom water, and 2 tablespoons of accumulated juices from the segmented fruit in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the orange and grapefruit segments decoratively in a wide shallow bowl. Pour the blossom water mixture over. Cover and let stand 15 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Cut the cake into wedges and spoon the citrus compote alongside.

(PS I’ve added ½ tsp of orange oil to the cake and it tastes even yummier. Enjoy!)

Rosemary Harris writes the Dirty Business mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Paula Holliday. Her debut novel Pushing Up Daisies was nominated for Anthony and Agatha Awards for Best First Mystery. She’s the past president of Sisters in Crime New England and a board member of MWA-NY. She’s also a master gardener in the state of Connecticut and with her husband she has founded a community library in central Tanzania. Dead Head is her third book following 2009’s The Big Dirt Nap. When she’s not writing or gardening, she loves to bake. Visit her at

Dead Head: A Dirty Business Mystery (Dirty Business Mysteries)


Molly MacRae said...

Wow, Rosemary! I will try this cake soon! Bye the way, nice to see you here. Will you be back at Love is Murder in 2011?

Rosemary Harris said...

This cake is yummy..and so easy to make. Sometimes I don't even bother with the compote. Enjoy! I really missed LIM this year - I don't know what my 2011 schedule is yet (..I barely know what I'm doing this summer except for catching up on my reading.) I hope to...