Sunday, January 8, 2012

Capricious Citrus (Orange Snacking Cake)

When it comes to cooking, a lot of my creations start with pure whim. After all, "who knows where ideas come from? They just appear." I can't say exactly why, but last night I decided I simply must bake an orange cake. An orange snacking cake, to be more precise. I'm not entirely sure what merits the distinction, but I love the sound of it. I presume it has something to do with making it somewhat smaller and less elaborate than the standard birthday cake, happily that means it's even easier to cook.

Snack time

I've had enough baking experiments go horribly awry that, from now on, I take to the internet to do a little research before just diving in, ovens blazing. "Orange snacking cake" didn't really turn up too much that seemed fitting, but TasteSpotting came through, leading me to a Clementine Olive Oil Cake on Brooklyn Supper. Clementine is close enough to orange, right?

Assembling the team
Naturally, there were some adjustments needed. First of all, I love the idea of olive oil cake and bread, I truly do, but given the calamitous results of my cranberry-apple olive oil bread, I was a little leery. Furthermore, something about a cake without butter just seems wrong. Like serving pot roast for Thanksgiving or rabbit on Easter (actually something I've always wanted to do, but I'm not sure anyone else would see the humor of it).

The remaining changes include upping the vanilla, replacing yogurt with sour cream, and swapping out the white stuff for whole wheat pastry flour and turbinado sugar, because I operate under the illusion that making sweets with them makes them healthy. Healthy-ish. As always, I recommend lining your cake pan with parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is fold the paper over several times, measure it out from the center of the pan, and then cut it; a process that reminds me of making paper snowflakes.

The first step, at least
The resulting cake may be my new favorite. Despite the fruit and syrupy glaze, I think it remains sweet, but not too sweet. An important distinction. The orange flavor comes through beautifully and it's dense and moist. The whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar yield a heartier, more toothsome crumb that seems just perfect for the title of snacking cake.

The first of many
Orange snacking cake
Adapted from Brooklyn Supper

I went to the trouble of trying to artfully arrange the orange slices in the bottom of the cake pan, but it turns out adding the batter will cause them to shift all crazy-like. Such is life. You can try putting down a thin layer of batter to stabilize them, first, or embrace the random nature of displacement.

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c sour cream
3/4 c turbinado sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 orange, skinned and segmented

For the glaze:
1/2 c turbinado sugar
1/3 cup orange juice

The futility of man

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch cake pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the parchment, too. You'll thank me later.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.


Then whisk together the sour cream, sugar, eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just mixed. Add the (cooled) melted butter and fold gently to combine.

Place orange segments in the bottom of the pan, and then pour the batter in on top, sort of like pineapple upside down cake.

Pouring it on
Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, whisk together the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Bring the mixture to a light, shimmering boil and remove from the heat. Allow to cool.

Place a plate on top of the cake pan and invert to unmold, removing the parchment paper and pour on the glaze. Smooth it over the entire cake using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Top with additional segmented oranges.



beti said...

the oranges in the cake really make it pop, it looks totally divine and it looks so soft and moist

KJL said...

Looks good! If you are interested in orange and olive oil inspiration, you might want to try this recipe, which caught my eye because it is inspired by the Flour Bakery cookbook and because it is made with foccacia dough, which is not too fussy:

J said...

Why thank you! The butter and sour cream definitely help account for a tender crumb, whole wheat or no. The oozing glaze in the photos is because I didn't wait to long to cut in and start serving. It gets even better as it sits and the glaze soaks in deeper. When making fancier cakes, I almost always split them through the center and brush a syrup of some sort on for added moisture.

I'll definitely have to give foccacia dough a try, it seems like a great first step into baking with olive oil!