Among my favorite flavor secrets are good nut oils. Like great olive oils, they are often drizzled on as a condiment just before serving, but their rich and subtle flavor makes them a versatile ingredient in all kinds of dishes. Traditionally, the most fragrant, flavor-concentrated oils came from Europe, and particularly France. A domestic producer in the Napa Valley that I like a lot is California Press. They make wonderful oils from walnuts, almonds, filberts (also called hazelnuts), pecans, and pistachios. Any good nut oil matched to the same chopped nut would be great in this simple cake. My favorite is pecans with pecan oil. It makes a light and tender cake, which I like to bake in small loaves, cut thickly, and serve either as the base for a fresh fruit dessert or to accompany good coffee or tea.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer and then gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the toasted nut oil and orange juice and continue to beat for another minute or so. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Gently fold in the nuts. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and
Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. To store, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.