A visit to an olive farm

We visited our friends who own a beautiful olive farm near the village of Porterville in the Cape.

When I offered to bring something decadent to enjoy with coffee or serve as a dessert I felt I had to incorporate their delicious Extra Virgin Olive oil (winner of several prestigious Local and International Awards) rather than use butter in this recipe.

In my mind olives take me to Italy

Generally Italians are not known for their pastries.  They serve variations of lemon tarts and cakes with coffee for breakfast, but these are often fairly dry and too sweet.

 The flavours

I have made an Orange Polenta Cake before, but this time I thought I would try the combination of lemon, rosewater and cardamom. I love the flavours of both lemon and lime in this recipe, but if you wish you can substitute both with orange. The rose water and cardamom take one further East than Italy and these can also be omitted.

Hint: when buying Rose Water always ensure that it is potable & not cosmetic. I always stock up with rose water at Indian or Asian stores as they use it most in their cuisine and will ensure that you find the best quality.

Gluten free, no wheat flour!

With a couple of family members omitting gluten from their diets I have been drawn towards more gluten-free recipes lately. I love the texture of the polenta with the almonds.  The coconut adds both texture and moisture to the cake.

THE HIGHLIGHT of this recipe is that it is SUPER EASY

I measure all (except the syrup) the moist ingredients in a jug and all the dry ingredients go into a mixing bowl.  You then gently mix it all together and bake!

There is no complex or over sweet icing or frosting, just a simple syrup, that has a few exotic notes of cardamom and rose water. Do not overdo the rose water otherwise it can have a cheap cosmetic flavour! If desired you can omit these.

And, if you need to you can make it well in advance as it remains moist for at least 4 days…. that’s if it is not eaten by then!


Drizzle a teaspoon or two of peppery olive oil over the cake and add a twist of ground sea salt…… a flavour sensation that you will never forget!

Recipe: Lemon Drizzle Cake with Olive oil, Cardamom and Rose – Gluten and dairy free

While we were on the farm it was olive pressing season. I loved tasting the various olive oil from the different varieties and join a discussion on what oil is suitable for which blend.

Some oils were mild and fruity, others super grassy and nutty. The fresh peppery finish on the palate was either short or lingered. The range of blends that are offered from this farm vary from mild and fruity to a stronger ‘Intenso’ oil, which I love. Later that evening we drizzled some of the most intense peppery oil that was pressed just 48 hours earlier over rare steak, with the addition of a sprinkling of coarse salt….. one of my most delicious flavour experiences ever!

Tasting and blending oils is an art!