The Lean Version: Blood Orange & Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake

As I've mentioned before, I'm generally not a fan of olive oil cakes because I don't like the taste of extra virgin olive oil. But Benjamina Ebuehi's "Blood Orange & Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake" calls for just three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a 9-inch round cake, so I didn't think the end result would have a strong olive oil flavor. Still, the headnote says that the cake has a "slight peppery edge from the olive oil," so I decided to use extra-light olive oil anyway.

This cake comes together quickly. You mix brown sugar and water to make a paste that you spread on the bottom of a greased, parchment-lined pan, and then arrange thin slices of blood orange on top. For the batter, you rub blood orange zest into sugar; add plain yogurt; whisk in eggs and olive oil; and stir in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). I poured the batter on top of the oranges and baked the cakes (I was making a double batch of cake) until firm and golden. I let the cakes cool completely in the pans before turning them out; they released cleanly without any problems.
My husband saw my cakes on a cooling rack on the kitchen counter and asked why I was making Claire Saffitz's blood orange and olive oil upside-down cake again. His confusion was completely understandable, because I had made Clarie's upside-down cake just the week before, and the two cakes looks nearly identical (or at least my versions did, because I tiled the orange slices in the same pattern for both cakes). But once I sliced this cake and tasted a bite, some significant differences between Benjamina's cake and Claire's became quite clear.
This cake is extremely lean. The only fat comes from two eggs, three tablespoons of olive oil, and a third of a cup of yogurt. By contrast, Claire's cake (which to be fair is a slightly larger cake, since it's ten inches in diameter) contains three eggs and one and a quarter cups of olive oil. In addition, Benjamina's batter is mixed by hand, while Claire's requires prolonged whipping with a whisk attachment using either a hand mixer or stand mixer. Not surprisingly, Benjamina's cake had a coarser and drier texture. It tasted just fine (although I think the cake itself has less orange flavor than Claire's), but having just eaten Claire's cake a short time before, I wished that this cake was more moist and tender. Then again, I calculated that if you cut both cakes into the same number of servings, a slice of Benjamina's has about half as many calories as a slice of Claire's. There are trade offs to be made -- but it's good to have options!

Recipe: "Blood Orange & Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake" from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi, recipe available here from Food Nework.