By Tim Bruderek
Dave Crofton, head baker at One Girl Cookies, is a warm guy with a big personality. He has a unique passion for baking that’s inspiring to watch. But Dave’s story does not follow the traditional path to success.
Dave graduated from ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program in 2003, working during the day and taking his classes in the evening. Upon completing the program, like most graduations, Dave began his search for a job in the field, and his Career Services advisor gave him a lead that sounded interesting. Little did he know this new job would change his life for good.
Dawn Casale, founder and namesake of the Brooklyn-based bakery One Girl Cookies, was becoming well-known for her delectable sweet treats, but was seeking some help with the growing demand and notoriety of her business. Dave contributed his baking talents, and soon enough, the pair was working diligently to make One Girl a success. But they got more than they planned – they ended up falling in love and getting married.
Flash forward a few years, and now Dawn is running the business side of things, while Dave serves as the company’s lead baker. The shop has become famous for its cookies (as the name suggests), but has grown to offer a huge variety to satisfy their customer’s sweet cravings. The pumpkin whoopee pie has become the shop’s most popular item—with pillowy cookies sandwiching a smooth vanilla cream cheese filling, it’s easy to understand why!
This spring, Dave graciously returned to ICE to teach a class, sharing stories about his success and recipes to make his delicious cookies, cakes and other desserts at home.
The class featured many helpful tips (proper dough preparations, mixing techniques and baking tricks), and secrets to One Girl’s top recipes (such as their famous chocolate cake, prepared with zucchini to keep it moist). Aside from the seductively sweet whoopie pies, the aforementioned chocolate cake and several varieties of crispy biscotti, the class whipped up a citrus olive oil cake to spice things up.
Light, airy, with a touch of citrus zing, this delicate cake allows the flavor of the olive oil shine through. For an extra sweet and salty crunch, we finished the cake with a sprinkling of sea salt and turbino sugar. It was my clear favorite recipe of the evening, is easy enough to prepare at home and special enough to impress dinner guests. Scroll down for the recipe, and don’t forget to stop by one of the two One Girl Cookies Brooklyn locations to say hi to Dave (and indulge your sweet cravings)!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup cake flour
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ tsp table salt
- 1 tbsp Turbinado sugar
- ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using both hands, rub the zest into the sugar, breaking up as many lumps of zest as possible.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Continue to whisk for 3 minutes, or until the mixture has become light yellow. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and whisk 1 more minute. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cake flour.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they are frothy, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add the salt and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, carefully fold the whites into the batter. Make sure that all of the whites are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the Turbinado sugar and the sea salt on the top.
- Bake for 25 minutes, and rotate the pan in the oven. Bake for 25 more minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. The cake will shrink from the side of the pan and have a rustic appearance. Turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment paper, and turn the cake back over onto a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely.