Saturday, August 6, 2011

Greek inspiration ― Olive & Ouzo cupcake

When Cat asked me to do a guest post for Sugar Daze I thought it was a great opportunity to play around with a couple of ideas I'd been having for new cupcake flavours. I thought about Greek products that might go well in a cupcake and might go well together.

Some of the ingredients I had in mind were figs, olives, brandy and ouzo.

I've had this jar of sweet olive preserve for a while now and I've been thinking of a good way to get them into a cupcake. Here in Greece it's very common to make a sweet preserve of various fruits and vegetables even.

It's not jam, marmalade or jelly but fruit or veg that is sometimes blanched and then stored in a sugar syrup. Depending on the fruit it can be boiled in the syrup or separately. You can get all the popular fruits such as cherry and grape and also more unusual things, such as baby egg-plant, all in sweet preserve form. They are often served on a small saucer, just a spoonful and are considered a healthy treat. They are fat free but are full of sugar!

In the photo below we have sour cherry on the left and my olive preserve on the right:

The thing that I admire about the women who make 'spooned sweets' as they're often referred to here, is that it totally encompasses thriftiness. Not a thing goes to waste. The abundance of fruit and vegetables from the trees and gardens can be preserved in sweet form for months.

Sweet Olive preserve is not widely available in Greece, well not at the supermarkets anyway, you probably have to go to a shop that specialises in sweets and other Greek produce. I get mine from a wonderful local shop: Melokipos (Honey garden).

So anyway... I was thinking that olives and figs together would be a very unusual concept but in the end I realised that the cinnamon and clove that are in the preserved olive just wouldn't work together so well.

I'd already soaked some dried figs in brandy overnight so in the end I made a simple batch of plain cake adding the finely chopped olives to half of it and the finely chopped brandy soaked figs in the other half.

I often use the simple recipe of 100g flour, 100g sugar, 100g butter & 2 eggs recipe when I'm doing experimenting. I can tell afterwards if I need to change the recipe to get it more or less moist, it's a good starting point.

There was a delicious smell in the kitchen as they were baking! For the frosting I made a simple buttercream; for the olive cakes I added some ouzo and for the fig cupcakes I added some brandy.

Findings: The Olive & Ouzo cupcake was really good and I'm not even an olive fan! Alex thought it was a little dry and maybe it could have done with a slightly more moist cake. The ouzo in the frosting is very interesting. You can barely tell it's there and then right at the end you get the slight taste of aniseed.

The Brandy Fig cupcake was divine too. I'm partial to figs so I knew this one was going to be my favourite.

I can't wait to try something similar when the fresh figs are in season, towards the end of summer. I also think that some cocoa in this cupcake wouldn't go amiss. It won't be too painful to have to do some more experimenting!


  1. These both sound delicious to me. I am in Washington DC so I cannot get to your shop to sample these. Do you have a recipe posted somewhere?

    I made a tapenade of fig and olive and served it with roasted chicken. It was delicious. I am looking for a way to preserve the olive/fig tapenade. Do you have any idea how I would do this?

    It is not as sweet as a spoon sweet would be....but it was delicious so I would love to preserve it. I also serve it on toasted bread with a soft cheese (feta, ricotta, whatever I have around).


    Victoria (Nike)

  2. just seen this post liz - you bedazzle me!