Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flourless Orange Cake

I learned something today.  Well, two things actually: 1. The Craftsman is open for brunch until 3pm, which is awesome; and 2. When using whole oranges in a recipe, you'll get the best flavor if you boil the oranges first.

Now, orange-boiling is a tedious task because it involves changing the water twice so that the bitterness of the orange doesn't get absorbed back into the fruit.  I know not everyone digs this sort of long process, but I'm telling you, it's worth it.  (Just like when Martha Stewart tells me to refrigerate cookie dough for two hours before baking.  There's a reason she has her own magazine.)

The other time-consuming part of this recipe is that it calls for "caster sugar".  This is not cane sugar and it is not powdered sugar - it's something in between.  And maybe you can get it at the grocery store and maybe you can't, but the roads were slippery today, so I just used my mortar and pestle.  I suppose you can use a food processor, too, but I'm all about manual labor today.  Anyway, the sugar ends up looking kindof like fine little snowflakes.  Pretty.

Aside from the aforementioned shenanigans, this recipe is rather simple - oranges, almond meal, baking powder, sugar and eggs.  Oh, yeah.  And you're probably wondering what almond meal is.  Well, pretty much it's finely ground blanched almonds.  Sounds fussy, but you can buy it in a bag at the co-op.  Just gonna warn you, though: it's hella expensive.

You can find the recipe for Flourless Orange Cake here.

As usual, there were a few instances where I didn't follow directions.  I boiled the oranges all proper-like, blah blah blah... but the order in which I combined the ingredients went kindof like this: throw everything except the almond meal in my (borrowed) KitchenAid mixer, whip it around for a while, stand in awe of the electronic device doing all the work, then add the flour.  Pour into pan.

The actual instructions were much more careful about number-of-seconds-between-adding-eggs and adding-the-orange-puree-in-three-shifts, but... I went to yoga in between a few of the preparation steps and thought I remembered how everything went in.  Oh, well.  It still turned out.

Another "learning experience" I had during this baking experiment was when I went to check the cake after 50 minutes of baking: It had apparently been done baking about 8 minutes earlier.  Lesson learned?  Check on your stuff ten minutes before the recipe says it's going to be done.  I'm sure this sort of thing was taught to me in 7th grade home ec. class, but that was a long time ago, and sometimes I forget things.

The ResultsThis cake is fantastic: juicy, moist, orange-y, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and well-textured.  I'm going to make it for your birthday.