Making this lovely Portuguese Clementine-Olive Oil Cake w/ Marmalade Drizzle brought back memories of a marriage proposal! I had a few before my true Prince Charming came along, but this particular one was especially interesting, as it occurred in the strangest of situations and in a foreign country, of all places!
It happened in Lisbon, Portugal many years ago while traveling in Europe with my mom. For six weeks we wandered like nomads from one end of the continent to the other; hiking the magnificent mountains, swimming in the clear blue Mediterranean and enjoying the amazing history that we encountered at every turn. Of course we had to visit the quaint cafés, abundant bakeries and delightful patisseries in every city we ventured through.
One day, just in passing, my mom mentioned that she had always dreamed of visiting Portugal. It wasn’t part of our itinerary but being foot loose, fancy-free and knowing we had unlimited travel miles with our Eurail passes, I said, “Why not, let’s go!” We boarded the next train and before we knew it, found ourselves in the Lisbon railway station without a clue of where to stay or what to see.
Much to our surprise a handsome and gregarious young man befriended us right there in the station and offered assistance in securing accommodations. We were wary at first, but after learning he was the son of the city’s mayor, we became a bit more trusting. He made a few phone calls and it wasn’t long before we were checking into a lovely hotel right in the heart of the bustling city. When he left that day, he offered to show us around the city during the time we were visiting. We thanked him kindly for all his help, but told him we’d be fine from that point on.
The following day as we toured the city we mysteriously (?) ran into this young fellow here, there and everywhere. He was kind, friendly and helpful and somewhere, over the course of the day, he won our hearts. We saw him several times over the next few days and when he offered, on our final day, to show us “The most beautiful park in the city.” we readily agreed.
The park was indeed lovely and he had brought a delicious Portuguese lunch which we enjoyed in the beautiful, lush surroundings. Time passed by quickly, and soon we needed to catch a bus to the train station where we said farewell to our new friend. The bus was crowded and after finding a seat for mom, we headed a bit further back where we stood and chatted.
Shortly before we arrived at our departure train station he blurted out an unbelievable question: “Would you marry with me?” was exactly what he said. In my shocked state, I asked him to repeat the question. “Would you marry with me?”, he said again. I stumbled and sputtered and tried to think of what to say.
Finally I said, “Well, I have to return to the United States to complete my education”. His reply was quick, “Don’t worry about that. Education is not necessary for you, all you need to do for me here is to cook and clean”. Oh dear, I honestly can’t remember exactly what I said at that point, but I do remember that I had quite the story to tell my mom as our train sped away from Lisbon!
To this day, whenever I hear about or read about Portugal, I have to smile as I remember this sweet story. And speaking of smiling, you will grin from ear to ear when you take the first bite of this moist, delicious, citrusy cake. Actually, the grin will start even before the first bite; when you slice into this cake, you will be greeted by the most amazing aroma. Citrus, vanilla and olive oil combine to create a intoxicating fragrance that is likely to melt even the firmest dietary resolve. I have a feeling you’ll love this one – we think it’s a keeper, for sure!
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
- fine zest of 5 clementines*
- 1 ½ cups clementine juice from approximately 15 clementines*
- For the drizzle:
- 1/4 cup marmalade I used my Orange-Pineapple Marmalade, use your favorite.
- 4-5 tablespoons half and half or milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 12-cup Bunt or tube pan with baking spray and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl) beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
- On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the clementtine juice and zest and mix for about 20 seconds to bring the batter together.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely before icing
- For the drizzle, place marmalade in microwave for 30 seconds or heat in a small pan over low heat till melted. Strain warm marmalade through a fine strainer, push on solids with the back of a spoon. You should end up with approximately 3 tablespoons of strained marmalade.
- Combine marmalade, 4 tablespoon of half and half, vanilla and powdered sugar in a medium size bowl. Mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Add more half and half or milk if needed to thin enough to drizzle. With a spoon drizzle icing in a back and forth motion from center to outer edges of cake.
- Allow icing to set before serving. Cake is even better if made a day in advance. Store in a covered cake container.