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Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake…. a Real Sensation!!!

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Blood oranges are juicy, sweet with  a dark red interior and are slightly less acidic than regular table oranges. Originally from Sicily (Italy) and Spain the blood orange has gained in popularity and can be found fresh or in juice form in many local grocery stores. Blood oranges contain a pigment called anthocyanin which is not typically found in citrus but rather more common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented but depending on the variety the outside may also have dark washes of red. What we find here in our stores probably are grown in either California of Texas. U.S. grown blood oranges are in season from late fall to early spring.

As Elise of Simply Recipes says, “Those of you who love blood oranges don’t need to be told how exquisitely wonderful they are. In the kingdom of citrus, blood oranges are royalty. You know that every bite is an explosion of sweet, deep orange flavor, with hints of raspberry.”  If you’ve never had a blood orange, or have shied away from them because of the name, think “Sangria” which in Spanish means “blood” and get yourself to a store that carries them. You will be delighted by them.”

I brought my first blood oranges of the season home from the store with the thoughts of making an olive oil cake. Since blood oranges are grown in Italy and Spain I thought an olive oil cake would be the perfect marriage of flavours. Olive oil is used for baking in countries, instead of butter, where there’s plenty of it. It makes your cakes dense and rich and faintly fruity. Last year I made a delicious Orange Olive Oil Cake from a recipe from Canadian chef Anna Olson. Her recipe would have worked beautifully with the blood oranges but I decided to try something new . I guess that is the food blogger in me:D Sometimes you are just afraid to upset the proverbial apple cart and don’t want to mess with perfection. Well sometimes you just have to take the plunge when you find a recipe that just sounds amazing. I mixed gently, watched my masterpiece in the oven closely, waited impatiently for it to cool, sprinkled it liberally with icing sugar and then sliced into it. And amazing it was!!!! There is just something about olive oil cake that just “turns my crank”:D With this experiment I was happy to find the results were a perfectly cooked and delicately crumbed cake. I know this is something I will be making again and again in it’s simplicity.

You will also see that the recipe calls for buttermilk. Every cook should have a quick fix substitute ready because, I don’t know about you, but buttermilk is not an item that is usually in my refrigerator. Few recipes today require buttermilk, but, when you do make buttermilk recipes, you know what happens. The rest of the buttermilk container from your last buttermilk recipe tends to get lost in the fridge, and you end up tossing  it when it expires. By adding acid in the form of either one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk, you can create a buttermilk substitute. Unfortunately, the rich tang that is found in true authentic buttermilk will not be there. Vinegar works best, but lemon juice will work in a pinch, so never discount it. You can also substitute the same amount of plain yogurt that you would need of buttermilk. Again, the tang found in buttermilk will not be present, but since yogurt is also rich the recipe will not suffer. Or…this is the easiest substitute of all. Use plain old milk. That’s right, plain milk. Buttermilk is simply the liquid that is removed in the butter making process. Buttermilk is actually low in fat, which most people don’t expect. To thicken the milk and make it slightly sour, add 1-3/4 teaspoons of cream of tartar to an eight-ounce cup of regular milk.

One word of warning if your blood oranges are fully ripe juicing and supreming your oranges will be an extremely messy business!!! You will really see why they call them blood oranges!!

Salute a cent’anno (health for a hundred years) !!!

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Before we move on to the recipe just a friendly reminder that the H2Ope for Haiti raffle is on until Sunday February 28th to raise funds for Concern Worldwide and their efforts to bring water and relief to the earthquake victims of Haiti.

One raffle ticket will give you the chance to win your choice of wonderful prizes donated by some fabulous bloggers. How’s about an I-Pod Shuffle, an autographed copy of David Lebovitz’s latest cookbook, Indian artwork or many more exciting prizes. I donated a child’s backpack (16″ x 12″) featuring the official Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Quatchi, Miga, Sumi and Mukmuk. In addition, there is a warm, snuggly micro fleece winter throw (39″ x 60″) with a large print of official Olympic mascot Quatchi - perfect for brightening up any child’s room. These make a perfect keepsake of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics for any boy or girl. PRIZE CODE: HFH16.
 Check out this site for a complete list of prizes and GOOD LUCK!!!! 
 Although each person’s donation may be small, even single drops of water will eventually fill a swimming pool.
Many thanks!!!!!

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**Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake**
based on a recipe from A Good Appetite: Secrets of the Cake Stand

Butter for greasing pan

3 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
Buttermilk (will be added to juice to be equivalent to approximately 3/4 cup)
3 large eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Icing sugar for finishing

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 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Grate zest from 2 oranges and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.

Supreme an orange: Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4-inch pieces.

 Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. You will have about 1/4 cup or so. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs.

 In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in oil a little at a time. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Scrape batter into pan and smooth top.

Bake cake for about 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Serve with whipped cream and honey-blood orange compote, if desired. I adore my olive oil cake sprinkled liberally with icing sugar!!!

Serves 8 - 10

Note: To make a honey-blood orange compote, supreme 3 more blood oranges according to directions above. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

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