nosh friday: orange-scented olive oil cake
The first reason I wanted to try this recipe was because the word “scented” was in the title. The idea of a citrus perfume wafting from cake through my apartment was just too tempting an idea and my curiosity was piqued. I’m actually not really all that crazy about oranges but I wanted to be adventurous and try something different. In the future, I plan on experimenting with different citruses and oils.
So, I bring you:
2 1⁄3 cups sugar
Unsalted butter, for greasing (or be lazy like me and use cooking spray)
2 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more for pan
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
To start, cut off the very ends of the oranges and quarter them lengthwise. Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add the oranges, wait till the water comes back up to a boil, and then drain. Repeat this process with fresh water three times total. (It might seem excessive, but no one wants to eat a pithy, bitter cake.) Once the oranges have been thrice boiled, throw them one last time into a pot with 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Turn on the heat to about medium-high and stir till the sugar dissolves. Let the oranges and simple syrup bathe together in their hot tub of sticky glory for about a half hour (mine took about 35-40 minutes) until the oranges can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Once the oranges are cooled, remove from the syrup (reserve this, you’ll use it later) and throw into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz these little guys into a chunky pulp, about 15 pulses. (While you’re at it, preheat the oven to 350 degrees — my cake got a little too brown for my liking, so I might later on play around with a lower temperature.) Smartly whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a separate bowl and put to the side. Then, add the whole kit and caboodle of ingredients (sugar, flour mixture, eggs, vanilla) to the bowl of the food processor (except the olive oil and also, I advise the addition of a pinch of sea salt). Let it do its thing for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated and you don’t see any chunks of orange. Then, with the food processor running, pour the olive oil down the tube thing (technical term, that) and let it process till fully mixed.
Pour the batter into a greased 9″ cake pan and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out nice and clean. Once the cake is removed from the oven, use the toothpick (reduce, reuse, recycle, kids) to poke little holes all over the cake. Then, while the cake is still warm, drizzle about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the reserved orange simple syrup all over the cake, letting it absorb (don’t drench the poor dear, or you’ll end up with a soggy cake). This idea, taken from the post of this recipe on The Kitchn, lent to a fabulously moist crumb.
I fed this to several of my co-workers this week to rave reviews. I tried not to annoyingly hover while they ate, scrutinizing their reactions and hoping perhaps someone might weep. (No one did.) Now, I still have half a cake left and only myself here in this wee little apartment — this, more than anything, is why I need a roommate.