This canola oil cake is the best of both worlds, Italian tradition with Canadian ingredients.
At Loka we’ve always been a huge proponent of canola. An exploration of Canadian cuisine, we support Canadian farmers by using Canadian ingredients.
In Canada more than 43,000 Canadian farmers grow canola. In fact, the plant is named canola because “Can” references Canada and “ola” means oil.
I reached out to Canola Eat Well to sponsor this canola oil cake post because the classic Italian olive oil cake is praised. But many people don’t know canola is also great for cakes.
For some reason we think of canola oil as a fryer oil. But just as you can have different grades and quality of olive oil, the same is true for canola oil. One of our favourites is the artisanal XV cold pressed canola oil, which is fantastic as a finishing oil.
Last summer we were invited to Canola Connect Harvest Camp to visit rural Manitoba. While I’ve been to Winnipeg and even northern Churchill to swim with beluga whales, I had not visited the rural areas of the province.
We rode in combines, met farmers, and spent a lot of time talking about food. It was amazing to see this part of our country.
Hint: you can see our hands at 1:16.
Modernizing the Classic Olive Oil Cake
We adore Italy. But the last time I visited with Dave for our 5 week meatcation I realized that in many ways Italian chefs are trapped. With such a focus on keeping the tradition they don’t have the same ability to experiment.
But this year is Canada’s 150th birthday and while we don’t have the same culinary identity as amazing countries like Italy, we do have the freedom to adapt and evolve traditional dishes.
The interesting thing about the olive oil cake is that all of the recipes are pretty similar. Much of the flavour comes from the olive oil. So in olive producing regions like Florence, olive oil cake is a great source of pride.
It’s a moist citrus flavoured cake often topped with almonds. It’s served with fresh fruit as a dessert or plain at breakfast with Italian coffee.
This canola oil cake is a riff on the classic tradition with the same pride by using Canadian ingredients: canola, sour cherries and cornmeal that gives it an interesting texture.
Love Canadian Desserts? Check Out this Blueberry Grunt.
I love this recipe because you can make it in advance for a dinner party. While many people just buy dessert, there’s something special about making dinner from start to finish. Also, sharing with friends that this is a canola oil cake is sure to start an interesting conversation.
All About Sour Cherries
Sour cherries are similar to the sweet cherries we all know, but not surprisingly a bit more acidic and tart. There are several varieties including the montmorency and amarelle cherry, which is lighter red and then the morello which is dark red. They are all fantastic but the montmorency is the most common.
As sour cherries are….well sour they are usually used cooked or in baked goods. They also don’t keep long so try to buy them the day you want to use them or at least the day before.
Canola Oil Cake with Sour Cherry Compote
Don’t be intimidated by the term “compote” it simply means fruit cooked in a sugar syrup. Make this compote in advance, it lasts in the fridge for up to two months.
Paired with the canola oil cake it’s perfect for dinner parties where you want to impress. The cake is moist and can easily be made the night before. Simply top with the sour cherry compote just before serving.
If you want to know more about cooking with canola, get inspired with recipes on the Canola Eat Well website.