Friday, May 2, 2008
Orange Allspice Cake
I absolutely love citrus fruits. In pastries or desserts, a bit of citrus is always a vital element even when it is not the star. Citrus will always perk up flavor but when it’s the central ingredient, it’s nearly irresistible.
Looking to put a large juicy orange to good use, I recalled a cake that someone made for me a couple of years ago. It was a very orangey spicy cake with a tender texture I can still remember. It came from a cookbook by David Lebovitz and was gifted to me by someone who had done some recipe testing for him. So as I was contemplating that orange sitting on my table, I flashed on that cake and decided this is how I would fashion it.
The cake is bursting with the essence of orange flavor and infused with the complexity of allspice. It incorporates a whole orange that has been simmered to remove any bitterness of the pith. It’s not complicated in any way, but requires a little bit of preparation before you set about to mix the cake together. The glaze is easy and adds a nice note of buttery caramel that really dresses it up. If you love orange flavored pastries, you will certainly love this cake.
- I happened to have one lemon half that had been used for its zest, so I decided to throw that into the simmering water along with the orange and I’m very glad I did. It enhanced the flavor perfectly. The resulting fruit mixture came to 1 C.
- Taste the glaze as you go and add salt until you have the right balance. I love salty caramel, so I went with a few grains more.
- I couldn’t put my hands on some currants easily enough when the mood struck me to make this cake, so I omitted them.
Totally Orange Allspice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
adapted from Ripe for Dessert by David Leibovitz
serves 8 to 10
1 medium navel orange (about 1/2 lb)
1/2 lemon (optional)
1/4 t salt
1 1/3 C flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 t ground allspice
4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C milk
3/4 C currants, tossed in 1 t flour
1 oz (2 T) butter
1/3 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 T heavy cream
1/8 t salt
1/4 t vanilla extract
Cut the orange in half and place in a saucepan with the salt and enough water to cover (add the lemon half too, if you’re using). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and continue to cook on a low simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the fruit is limp and easily pierced with a knife. Drain and finely chop in a food processor. Do not puree. The resulting mixture should come to 1 C. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9” x 2” cake pan.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and allspice.
Beat the butter and granulated sugar for approximately 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Add half the dry ingredients and mix for a few seconds. Add the milk, chopped orange and currants and blend. Add the remaining flour mixture and just as it starts to come together, pull it off the mixer and finish it by hand to prevent over mixing. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until it tests done. Cool for at least 10 minutes before turning out.
To prepare the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sugar. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Then, stirring constantly, add the cream and salt and continue cooking and for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cool for just a few minutes to lukewarm. Pour quickly over the center of the cake. Use a small metal spatula or a butter knife to spread the glaze if necessary. Serve with your favorite spot of tea.