Summer has flown by and is soon coming to an end. The strangely cool and almost fall like August days we’ve been having on the East coast already make me think longingly of another summer past. As I reminisce about the sweet, languorous days, a Belle and Sebastian song comes to mind.
I spent the summer wasting
The time was passed so easily.
But if the summer’s wasted
How come that I could feel so free?
A few weeks ago for my friend’s birthday I made an orange-scented olive oil cake. It feels bright and sunny like summer, but is easily made all year. Winter would actually be a great time, because you find so many good oranges then. I love it because it’s not too sweet, the way I like all my desserts and uses olive oil instead of butter. It tastes even better the day after baking, if you can manage to make it last that long…
ORANGE-SCENTED OLIVE OIL CAKE adapted from a recipe in Saveur and Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark’s The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion. I reduced the flour and added extra olive oil for a more moist cake and reduced the sugar for a slightly less sweet cake. Serve on its own, or with freshly made whipped cream.
3 oranges (organic if possible)
1 ¾ cups sugar
unsalted butter for greasing pan
2 cups flour, plus a bit for the pan
2 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
Sea salt (the best you have, preferably something like fleur de sel) for garnish
Trim the tops and bottoms of 2 oranges and quarter lengthwise. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a saucepan and add oranges. Bring water back to a boil; drain. Repeat boiling process with oranges twice more using fresh water each time.
Put boiled oranges, ¾ cup sugar and 4 cups water back into the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves and orange rind can be easily pierced with a fork, 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool.
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 10″ round cake pan with butter and dust with flour. Line pan bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Remove orange quarters from syrup, discard any seeds, put oranges into a food processor or blender and pulse until oranges form a chunky purée. Reserve orange syrup. In a bowl, or food processor add remaining sugar, reserved flour mixture, vanilla, and eggs to the puréed oranges. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add olive oil; process until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Squeeze the juice from your remaining orange into a small bowl, whisk juice and confectioners’ sugar to make a thin glaze. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a cake stand or plate. Delicately pierce the top of the cake in various places with a toothpick, about 10 times. Using a pastry brush, brush cake first with a bit of the reserved orange syrup and then all over the top and sides with the glaze you just made; let cool completely. Garnish cake with a sprinkling of salt.