Holiday Baking: Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake


Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cake
Almonds and Gran Marnier

This light and moist cake will carry you through the holidays. Redolent with orange, cardamom, and almonds, and slightly spiked with Gran Marnier, it’s delicious for tea and spiffy enough for dessert. The sea salt is optional in the glaze, but if you lean that way, go for it. The flavors of the cake will develop while it cools and the glaze will ensure long lasting moistness. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 3 days, but it’s unlikely it will go uneaten that long.

4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest, from an untreated orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau
Pinch of sea salt

Powdered sugar
Whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light in color. Add the olive oil, orange juice, zest, vanilla and almond extract and stir to blend.
3. Combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients, stirring to blend without over-mixing. Pour into the prepared pan.
4. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes clean, about 45 minutes.
5. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine the sugar and  orange juice in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces to a syrupy consistency, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Gran Marnier and sea salt and simmer 1 minute, stirring frequently.
6. Transfer the cake from the oven to a wire rack. Brush the top with the glaze and cool 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, then brush the cake on the sides with the glaze. Cool completely.
7. Serve dusted with confectioners sugar and/or with a dollop whipped cream. If desired, add a tablespoon of the (thoroughly cooled) glaze to the cream while whipping. .

In Season: Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake

Blood oranges

Blood oranges are in season in California. I never know if I should eat them or just look at them. Beautifully mottled in crimson on the outside, and strikingly hued in magenta, orange and burgundy within, they are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Native to Sicily, these orange gems have found their way around the world to eager consumers. In the US they grow from December to May, and now is the time to indulge in these citrus wonders. Tart and sweet with a hint of raspberry, their unique flavor complements sweet and savory dishes.

This week we have been in blood orange heaven. I received 2 brimming bags of blood oranges from a friend who has a grove of citrus trees on her property. It’s all she can do to harvest all of her fruit, and is always looking for takers. How could I say no?  Aside from eating the fruit straight up and juiced, blood oranges have found their way into salads, salsas, sauces and dressings in our meals of late. Yesterday I made a Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake, not only with the citrus from my friend’s property, but with the olive oil her family makes from their olive trees. With all this homegrown love, I immediately thought of GYO: Grow Your Own, the foodblogging event created by Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this month by House of Annie. This is my contribution: Happy Spring!

Blood Orange Oil Cake

Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake

Makes one loaf

Finely grated zest of two blood oranges
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fruity olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a loaf pan. Add zest to sugar in a large bowl and mix well to incorporate. Stir in buttermilk and juice. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Whisk into eggs. Fold in olive oil a little at a time. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until golden on top and center of a knife comes clean when inserted in the middle, about 1 hour. Remove and cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. The flavors will develop if the cake can sit for several hours or overnight.