Saturday, April 14, 2012

Orange Olive Oil Cake

I've been on an orange binge lately, experimenting with different orange cake recipes in search of the perfect orange cake — a tender, moist cake that has more than just a hint of orange flavour. I wanted to be able to get more than just a hint of orange. I wanted a full-flavoured orange cake.

My favourite recipe so far is an Orange Poppy Seed Cake from Moroccan-born cook Nadine Abensur. Her cake is simply fabulous: citrusy, tender with a little crunch from the poppy seeds and moist, because of the spiced orange syrup that's poured onto the baked cake. You can really get the orange flavour in Abensur's cake as it has a fair amount of orange goodness: both the zest and juice are incorporated into the batter and the aforementioned syrup. And, if you still want more, the cake goes well with a light cream cheese frosting, orange flavoured of course. (The original recipe has no frosting and frankly, the cake doesn't need it.)

Abensur's recipe translated into mini cupcakes
I was quite happy to use Abensur's recipe as a base for future orange cakes. And then, I came across this recipe for this Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake from 

This recipe uses not just the juice and the zest of the orange but the entire fruit: the rind, the pulp... everything but the seeds. Now, if you're looking for more orange flavour, surely this was the way to go ...right? The olive oil was an extra pull —  I made a Lemon Olive Oil cake a while back and I loved it. So, I was psyched to give this recipe a go.

Now, let me tell you straight off the bat that if you don't like the bitter-sweet taste of marmalade, chances are high you will not like this cake. Like in the making of marmalade, the oranges are cooked in a sugar syrup before they pureed and used in the batter.

Surprisingly, the orange doesn't overpower the cake. You get the unmistakable flavour of orange but it's still pretty subtle. What you do get is a nicely textured cake, thanks to the fruit puree that is mixed into the batter.

The flavour of the olive oil is pretty distinguishable and if you are not a fan of olive oil, you may find it a little overpowering.  But I love it. It's sweet, moist, a little twang of bitterness here and there. Oh, and the orange glaze and the sprinkling of sea salt atop the glazed cake is just such a clever touch.

The cake isn't difficult to make but it is a little time consuming because you have to boil the oranges in water a couple of times and then again in a sugar syrup until the peels are soft and almost translucent. Then you have to wait for the oranges to cool before you start making the cake.

 So yeah, you have to plan ahead and perhaps prepare the oranges well ahead of time. Get the recipe for this Orange Olive Oil Cake here.

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