Arbequina Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Compote

Recipe from a book written by FVCC Executive Chef Howard Karp’s son-in-law, Dominic Orsini, the winery chef at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa

By LOUIS BERTINO for the Flathead Beacon

The recipe below is taken from a book written by FVCC Executive Chef Howard Karp’s son-in-law, Chef Dominic Orsini. Chef Dominic is the Winery Chef at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa, California and has been a guest instructor at the Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC. Here’s a quote from the president and CEO of Silver Oak Cellars regarding Chef Dominic:

“When asked to describe the cuisine we serve at Silver Oak, I like to use the phrase ‘casual elegance.’ Chef Dominic’s food isn’t fussy, but that doesn’t mean the flavors aren’t complex. His cooking has a clarity and honesty, born out of respect for fresh, locally grown ingredients and traditional techniques. His style takes patience. Good things take time.”


Crumb Topping

1 C. firmly packed light brown sugar

• 1/2 C. granulated sugar

• 1/2 C. unbleached AP flour

• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

• 1 1/2 C. raw almonds, chopped

• 1/4 C. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Place all the ingredients for the topping in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on medium-low speed for three minutes; the butter will soften and the mixture will be well blended, resembling lumpy cookie dough. Transfer the topping to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.


• 2 C. unbleached AP flour

• 1 C. granulated sugar

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

• 2 large eggs, lightly whisked

• 1 C. Arbequina olive oil

• 3/4 C. whole milk

• Finely grated zest of 1 orange

• 1/2 C. fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bottom of 10-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper and coat the paper with olive oil spray.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed for two minutes to combine thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, milk orange zest and orange juice until blended.

Add the oil mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle the topping evenly over the surface.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (If the topping browns before the cake is ready, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.)

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Release and remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely.

Strawberry Compote

• 1 pound strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces

• 1/4 C. sugar

Place the strawberries and the sugar in a small saucepan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the strawberries release their liquid, 12-15 minutes.

Uncover and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the compote thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon, 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temp.

To serve, slide the cooked cake from the pan bottom onto a serving platter, then cut into wedges. Accompany with the compote.

Louis Bertino is an instructional assistant at the Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit