Sunday, April 10, 2011
Whole Orange Cake
Yes, it's spring. I should be rhapsodizing about rhubarb or pea shoots. Just let me get this out of my system.
You see, I had to skip the entire citrus-eating season this winter. Blah, blah, baby stuff... I'll spare you. And now, with the end of my pox at hand, some friends brought me an entire bag of oranges, and a handful of lemons, FROM THEIR TREE. Now, I ask you, how do I pass that up?
A quick shuffle through some of my cookbooks gleaned a whole orange poppyseed loaf from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book that sounded amazing. Anything that uses the whole orange is worth a try. It turned out nicely, the crumb drier than I like and I used all of my poppyseeds in the first iteration, but the recipe ended up being a fantastic springboard.
Now that I live at altitude again, a few alterations are necessary to baked goods in order to avoid a floppy, sunken center. After making the recipe for the third time, I hit on the perfect combination of revisions. I reduced the sugar and weighed the oranges, since mine were small, adding an extra one and finding the cake's flavor even more pronounced. I added oil to the recipe and got a cake with the nicest crumb, soft and moist. If I had it unpacked, I would've made this into a bundt cake!
If you find, as I did, that you are not quite finished with oranges this season, grab a few lovely specimens and bake this cake.
Whole Orange Cake
Makes 2 or 3 loaves, depending on pan size
Note: You will need a food processor for this recipe!
For the cake:
2 large oranges (or 16-18 ounces of smaller oranges)
1 + 3/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup vegetable oil
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 cups flour (minus 3 T for high altitude baking)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
juice of half a large lemon
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350º (or 325º for high altitude bakers) and oil or butter two 9-inch bread pans or three smaller ones. Place the loaf pans on a baking sheet — just makes it easier to slide them into the oven.
Remove the green stem from the top of your oranges and cut oranges into a few pieces. Pulse the orange pieces and the sugar in the food processor until the oranges are finely ground with no chunks larger than mustard seeds. Add the eggs and pulse until smooth, then add the oil and melted butter. Scrape the sides down and pulse several more times for good measure.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the orange mixture into the flour mix, scraping the sides down to get every bit, and gently fold together with a spatula. When the batter is smooth, pour an even amount into your baking pans.
Bake 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and dry. The loaves won't necessarily brown much because of the orangey color, so you'll have to watch them near the end. You want them set, but just barely, so the center is moist. Let the loaves cool 30 minutes in the pan, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack while you make the glaze.
Mix glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and let come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer two minutes, until thickened. Brush the glaze over the sides (start there, turning as you go) and then the top of each loaf. Pour any extra over the top and let it puddle or drip down the sides. It's really good so you don't want to waste any!
Try to let the loaf cool completely before you tuck in or you'll risk drying out the nice crumb. If you absolutely must, set the loaf onto the counter, cut side down, while it finishes cooling.
*This freezes really well, wrapped in parchment and then plastic or a tupperware.