Olive Oil Cake with Balsamic Glazed Strawberries, Ricotta, and Cornmeal

Complicated name for an uncomplicated delicacy

Last week, we raved about Sixty Vines’ Texas Olive Oil Citrus Cake. The cake itself was light and not too sweet, a departure from the rich density associated with traditional cake. They served theirs with a mascarpone that added a touch of sweetness the citrus-focused creation might have otherwise lacked.

We were inspired. When it came time to pick a recipe for this week, we knew we wanted to do an olive oil cake, but we also knew we wanted to try it in a different flavor profile than the citrus. Y’all, there are a lot of olive oil cake recipes out there, so feel free to browse around for one that suits your needs. We went with this recipe from Waves in the Kitchen, which sounded incredible (we’re both big balsamic fans). Danielle Gerson of Waves in the Kitchen does an incredible job of creating great recipes that are straightforward and easy to follow. You can read the instructions we (mostly) followed here.

Here’s our experience:

The Process

The steps are simple, and thankfully for our clean-up time, minimal dishes are required. We used a KitchenAid to mix the batter, but doing it by hand would be just as easy and wouldn’t take long at all.

There are a few things we learned that we wanted to share for when you try this recipe on your own. The brown sugar we used got clumpy, so once the batter was mixed, we had to go in with a spoon and break them up individually. That’s the only downside of using the KitchenAid–it can’t see the spots it misses! Also, we spent entirely too long meticulously placing the balsamic strawberries and sprigs of thyme artfully on the cake. Somehow, this was the most stressful part of the entire thing. While aesthetically pleasing, that step is definitely not necessary and if you’re on any sort of time crunch you can definitely just sprinkle them on and it’ll still look cute. Finally, the round 9-inch pan we had was a tad too shallow for the amount of batter we put in it. It fit, but barely, and most of the cooking time was spent with us staring at the oven hoping it didn’t overflow. It didn’t, thank goodness, but our cake ended up with a tiny (cute) muffin top.

The final product!

The Results

The cake turned out beautifully. I mean, look at it! We did, though, have some issue with cooking times, largely related to our pan being too shallow for the batter. Where the strawberries were the heaviest, the batter right underneath didn’t get fully cooked the way we would have liked. We recommend spacing the fruits out a bit more than we did to ensure this doesn’t happen. As for the taste, it was incredible. It was light but a tad gritty from the cornmeal, and the balsamic strawberries added the perfect sweet touch we wanted. Overall, a success for Fizz and Fork’s first recipe!

What you should know before you try:

  • If you can’t find balsamic glaze at the store, don’t panic! You can do what we did and make your own glaze by simmering balsamic vinegar on the stovetop with some sugar, honey, or other sweetener of your choice. You’ll know it’s done when it has a thick, syrupy texture. However, be aware that this is a somewhat lengthy process and that you will need to add much more balsamic vinegar than you’ll need glaze–it will reduce to at least a half or a third by the time it’s at the correct consistency.
  • This cake is made with cornmeal, so the texture is slightly gritty. If that’s not something you’re a fan of, you can use a finely-ground cornmeal and/or you can sift the cornmeal before use.
  • Olive oil cake is by nature very versatile and takes on a lot of the flavor you’re using to add to it. If balsamic strawberries don’t appeal to you, you can pretty much pair it and infuse it with any fresh fruits of your choice.
How good would this look at a chic tea party?

When should you make this cake?

This cake is delicate, and honestly a great end to any meal. If we had to pick an occasion, we think this delicacy would make a great tea party cake. Don’t have any tea parties in your calendar? Baby showers, Mother’s Day, or Easter are other great options!

Don’t forget to check back next Wednesday for another restaurant review, and follow us on Instagram @fizz.and.fork and leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!

Sixty Vines

Houston’s “tappiest” date night spot

When we first walked into Sixty Vines in Rice Village, we didn’t think much of the name. We knew it was a wine bar, of course, and the name makes for a cute logo, but as it turns out, they mean what they say.

Sixty Vines has at least sixty wines on tap at all times (sixty-three, to be exact. We counted!). It’s a wino’s haven. Plus, all the food is ethically and locally-sourced, and all inspired by wine country cuisine, more than living up to expectations.

House-made frose

The Wine

We ordered a total of four different wines—a Cascinetta Vietti sparkling moscato from Italy, a Vine Huggers pinot noir from the Russian River Valley, a South African Lubenzi Chenin Blanc, and, to go with dessert, a house-made frosé. Don’t worry, we brought friends! The wide variety of the menu and the seemingly endless bar of wine taps could easily get overwhelming,but the staff was helpful and friendly, and were able to make recommendations to tailor to each of our preferences. The result was that each person got a wine fitting to their flavor profile, and we all know how a good glass of wine can elevate a meal.

The Savory

Up first on our savory docket was a plate of mushroom toast. The plate was small and best shared between two people, but the mushrooms were exquisitely cooked. Then came the entreés. The menu has enough options that you don’t have to order a particular kind of food, and you can stay in your individual price range, but not too many options as to be overwhelming. We ordered the Orecchiette Primavera, the Spicy Sausage Pizza, the Tonnarelli, and the Pork Chop. The overall verdict from us and our fellow diners? The food is delicious, but not too rich. The coconut in the Tonnarelli was noticeable but not overpowering, the pizza was light enough to still work with wine, the butter pesto was incredible but not overdone, and the carrots on the side of the pork chop were perfectly tender. If we were limited to two adjectives about the food, they would be light and flavorful. Even after a full plate, you’ll feel satisfied but not sluggish, and you know what that means…plenty of room for dessert!

Texas Citrus Olive Oil Cake

The Sweet

Because we couldn’t just decide on one, we ordered two desserts, from each side of the flavor spectrum. First up, the Deviled Affogato, which was a devil’s food cake topped with salted caramel ice cream, coffee caramel, and on the side, a shot of nitro cold brew coffee shot. The coffee comes on the side and you can choose how little or much of it to pour over the top. It was perfectly balanced, and none of the flavors felt like they took over the dish. We also ordered the Texas Olive Oil Citrus Cake. To be honest, by the time we got to the olive oil cake, we were all stuffed. Yet the unassuming slice proved to be a perfect night cap. The cake was light and not too dense, and the apple slices on top gave it the perfect little crunch. It made a great side for the frosé, too!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: There’s a parking garage that offers free two hour parking and that opens directly onto the second floor of the restaurant. Otherwise, there is metered parking available throughout Rice Village.
  • The area: The Sixty Vines we visited is located in the heart of Houston’s Rice Village, but there are also locations in Plano, TX, Uptown Dallas, TX, and Winter Park, FL.
  • Serving sizes: Before you go, be aware of the wine serving sizes. 

So when should you make your own trip to Sixty Vines?

Date night! This restaurant and wine bar is the perfect place to show off your impressive wine knowledge to a blind date or to enjoy a dressed-up evening with your significant other.

Have you been to Sixty Vines? What did you think? Can you guess what recipe we’ll be trying out next week as inspired by our trip there? Let us know by leaving a comment below!