How an Olive Oil Cake Raised Thousands of Dollars During the Pandemic
Plus a recipe for gluten-free Creamsicle Cloud Bombs.
Liz Roth, the founder of Little House Confections and creator of the “Bomb Ass Olive Oil Cake,” always dreamt of being a pastry chef. “I really thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be the next Ina Garten,’” she says with a laugh. And though she has a highly sought-after product—even the Kardashians have clamored for a slice—the path to pastry chef wasn’t as smooth as it seems for the viral cake baker. After enrolling in culinary school around 2006, and subsequently leaving with a bad back that required spinal surgery, the pastry dream dissipated. Instead, Roth became an interior designer.
But then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Paired with a bundle of anxiety and a desire to help those in need while staying at home, she turned to her favorite dessert: olive oil cakes. “I was like, ‘I can make eight at a time and I’ll just bake them for my friends and sell them and give all the proceeds to charity,’” she explains. “There was this one organization that I really like called the Covenant House of California and so I did that. I genuinely thought that it was going to be like 30 cakes.”
Before she even made her first cake delivery, orders piled in. By the end of April, she dropped off a $10,000 check to Covenant House of California and decided to formally start her baking business, dubbing it the Little House of Confections. And, true to its roots, charitable giving has been intertwined with the business from the get-go. To date, Roth has raised over $22,000 in donations to organizations like Black Lives Matter, This Is About Humanity, The People Concern, and Armenia Fund.
Baking is not only a method of giving back to the community, but a way in which Roth can connect with her family. “My mom, myself, and my late brother were obsessed with desserts. We have the three biggest sweet tooths I’ve ever known anyone to have,” she explains. The olive oil cake was inspired by a trip to Italy with her family when she was still a teenager. “Our favorite things were coffee cake and olive oil cake so this is, in my way, an ode to my late brother.”
Olive oil cakes are Roth’s bread and butter (or oil?), but she’s also produced what she’s named Creamsicle Cloud Bombs that include olive oil as a primary ingredient. The cloud bombs are cookie-cake hybrids that call for kneading during preparation. “It’s the kneading that’s so finicky. That’s where you get trouble; if they’re over kneaded they will become dry. If they’re under kneaded, they’re too doughy,” she explains. “So you have to knead them just right.”
When done correctly, Roth compares the texture of her Cloud Bombs to French macarons. This recipe, however, is not without challenge. “I will say good luck to anyone who tries to make them,” she says, laughing. “I took them off the menu because only myself and one of my other bakers could make them and it became really time consuming and expensive to make because of the labor involved.”
But the challenge is wherein lies the fun—at least for Roth. “I always try finicky, challenging recipes from other chefs. Sometimes I bomb so hard but it’s actually more fun to sort of figure out what I did wrong,” she says. “Failure makes you better at everything.”
Creamsicle Cloud Bombs
Recipe makes 24 bombs
Editor’s note: This recipe will only work with Cup4Cup flour.
- ¾ cup EVOO
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cup sugar (plus extra sugar for rolling cloud bombs)
- 5 cups Cup4Cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup orange zest
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Add eggs, vanilla, and zest into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add Cup4Cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another small bowl.
4. In a separate bowl add sugar and olive oil and mix with a spatula until you form a sugar and olive oil paste. Add your egg mixture into your sugar paste. Slowly add your dry ingredients into the bowl.
5. When incorporated, take the dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to knead the dough 4 to 5 times. By doing this you are toughening up your dough and further incorporating your ingredients.
6. Roll 2” balls tightly in between both hands. Each Cloud Bomb should be dipped and rolled in sugar and placed on a parchment lined cookie sheet 3” apart.
7. Place in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes.