There is a beautiful bowl of Clementines sitting on the sideboard, the Bergamots have perfumed the kitchen, and their sunny gold colors have just brightened up my day.
I love to use oranges in cooking. I like to use the juice in marinades, the zest in salad dressings, the flesh works well in both sweet and savory dishes. The different varieties we have here will provide much inspiration throughout the citrus season.
One of my recent favorite orange recipes is this little beauty.
I made this for a brunch last weekend. It is a wonderfully moist cake made with almonds, oranges and the fruitiest olive oil you can find. It keeps like a champ, isn't terribly sweet, and makes both the grown ups and the kids happy. I have to say that one of my favorite things about this cake is that the oranges came off the neighbors tree (I sent Andy on a "recon" mission), and the olive oil was fresh, cold pressed, and unfiltered from local olives. It is the most gorgeous olive oil I have ever tasted.
Moist Orange and Almond Olive Oil Cake (Torta di Mandorla)
Adapted from Gina DePalma – pastry chef at Babbo
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 large eggs
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1medium orange, chopped fine
1 cup orange juice
For the Brown Butter Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons whole milk
A few drops of fresh lemon juice
Candied finely sliced orange peel or toasted sliced almonds for garnish, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 14” X 4” loaf pans and set aside. See note.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to combine them and then set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar and mix until well combined. Add the olive oil and briskly stir until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Next add the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice and mix until smooth.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir until they are thoroughly combined; continue blending until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and with a skewer poke holes all over the top of the cakes.
6. While the cakes are baking, make the glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. When the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. When the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. It will continue to darken as it sits.
7. While the butter cools, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. Taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. If desired, stir in the toasted almonds. Spread glaze onto the top of the cakes and letting it seep into the holes, let the cakes sit until set and dry. If you would rather use the orange peel on top of the cakes pour over ¾ of the glaze, place longs very thin strips of peel over the tops of the cakes and then gently spoon the remaining glaze over the orange peel to help them adhere.
Cake can be cooked in two 9 inch round cake pans.