Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen is the author of the memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner and the novels Short Girls and Pioneer Girl. She is a professor in the creative writing program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
I started making this olive oil-based cake years ago, when I realized that I loved ordering olive oil cakes at restaurants but had never thought to make one myself. So I looked through a lot of online recipes, tried numerous variations and have (for now), settled on this composite. It is my kids’ favorite cake, and it probably doesn’t hurt that I bake it in mini-loaf pans that remind us of Lego bricks. We have this for breakfast, for dessert, for a snack. It’s what I call an everyday, anytime cake: a perfect comfort.