Musical pairing – Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw
We’re ten days into a brand new year and this is my official first post since being hit with a very nasty kidney infection complete with kidney stone(s) that began December 18, 2011 at a wedding shoot in Kentucky . . . and found me running a fever for four days, multiple naps every 30 minutes or so and moving our family Christmas Eve party from our house to my in-laws at the last minute. By the time I saw a doctor on December 24th, the word ‘hospital’ was mentioned a few times, cultures were ordered and they finally agreed to send me home with a 10-day supply of antibiotics . . . and a nifty little cup with a built-in ‘filter’ . . . and they nixed any and all alcohol consumption . . . well Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to you too, Mrs. Smith . . . moving on . . .
If you’ve followed any of my baking antics in 2011, you’ll remember that I seem to have issues with layer cakes and I’m not quite sure why because I’ve made plenty of them in my lifetime . . . but they were usually the boxed cakes of my youth and now I’m trying my hand at scratch cakes, cooked frosting and filled layers which honestly, shouldn’t be that difficult, right?
And I admit to a chuckle or two when I receive private email messages saying ‘how brave’ I am for actually posting my failures . . . ahem, sorry . . . ‘challenges’ here (Professor, I know you’re reading) . . . why wouldn’t I post my ‘challenges’? I rather enjoy poking fun at myself . . . especially when I’m so smug about something that should be as simple as baking a cake and then things don’t turn out quite as planned . . . and the truth of the matter is that we all have ‘challenges’ in the kitchen . . . don’t we??? Wait. If the answer isn’t a resounding ‘Yes!’ then I really don’t want to know . . . no, I’m certain I don’t want to know . . . I wonder if Deb had many cake failures . . . she’s legendary for her cakes . . . Okay I lie. I kinda want to know . . .
I am very happy to report that I’ve made this wonderful Orange Cake twice now and both times were quite successful as was evident by an empty platter and a few pitiful crumbs; the most recent cake was baked for a New Year’s Eve party with our Cincinnati family. The theme was small plates and Spanish but we decided Portugal was close enough and dessert was this Orange Cake. As you can see from the photos, this is a dense Bundt cake and is really perfect for this type of setting because it requires you bake it at least one day ahead to let the flavors develop and meld together; if you can swing baking it two days before you plan to serve it, even better!
The recipe comes from the uber suave and debonair David Leite; we had the pleasure of being seatmates on a plane ride from San Francisco to Indianapolis a couple of years ago and The Professor and I been fans ever since. And don’t miss David’s podcasts – those are real gems!
David Leite, The New Portuguese Table
SMITH BITES NOTES: David recommends baking this cake in a light-colored Bundt pan which ensures a beautiful light-brown color and more importantly, won’t stick to the pan. Liberally spraying the pan with a non-stick cooking spray with flour is an absolute must!
Also, when I tasted my fresh-squeezed orange juice, I found the flavor somewhat lacking (not the best oranges at my local grocers) so I mixed equal parts bottled pure Valencia orange juice (not-from-concentrate) to get me the 1-1/2 cups I needed and the deep orange flavor I wanted; just make sure you zest your oranges before you squeeze them.
And finally, this cake needs at least a day to set for the flavors to develop and meld so it’s perfect for entertaining when you want as much done ahead as possible . . . and if by chance there’s cake left over . . . it makes for a lovely breakfast with a cup of coffee . . .
- Nonstick baking spray with flour (see note above)
- 4 to 5 large navel oranges (see note above)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally spray a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with non-stick baking spray with flour and set aside
- Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4; you want 1-1/2 cups of orange juice total and if 4 isn’t enough, go ahead and squeeze the 5th orange; set aside
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt on a large sheet of parchment** and set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a handheld mixer works too) beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well combined – about 1 minute or so. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, 3-4 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and mix for about 30 seconds or so to bring the batter together
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours (mine took closer to an hour and 35 minutes). If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil (I did). Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes
- Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely; place in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight
- Dust with powdered sugar right before serving
**I find sifting my dry ingredients onto a sheet of parchment makes it easier to get the dry ingredients into my stand mixer; I create a cone of sorts to gently add the dry ingredients to the wet. But if a bowl works for you, then by all means use a bowl . . . I usually end up with more flour outside of the mixing bowl than inside!