Sunday, September 25, 2016

the Aussie edit: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

My little tiny Aussie oven needs two things:  a rest and a cleaning.  Apparently it is swimmer birthday season and that has meant many warm hours of baking for my wee oven.   Pretty sure the baking of treats has contributed very little to the need for a good cleaning, but it's time.  And the self-cleaning function is conspicuously absent on the dial.  Time for some Google searching of environmentally safe ways to clean an oven that can't clean itself.  Poor thing, can't take care of itself.     Old school oven cleaners could be the death of me, I don't remember them and their fumes fondly.  When you spend 40 minutes every day cruising the gorgeous ocean, you get a little more environmentally responsible.

Here's a little rundown of good things that have come out of my oven recently:  Fig Bars (because Fig Newtons are not a thing here and I kind of love them), Birthday Banana Rum Cake (because boozy cakes are fun), Crumb Cake (my original claim to fame-an updated version with a better cake layer and improved crumb to be posted), Mushroom Leek Lasagne (oh hey, sometimes I actually make a main dish and yep, need to post this one too), Mini Chocolate Chocolate Chip Donuts (add some chopped chips to the basic recipe and dust with icing/confectioner's sugar because your friend's little ones get ridiculously excited when you bring them), Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake (the eventual recipe in the post) and Blueberry Brioche (because everyone needs a challenge and blueberries were relatively inexpensive last week and I do mean relatively because they are about 10 cents US a berry and yes, no post for this yet it was an experiment).  

Logistically,  baked goods are easier to share.  And holistically they need to be shared, that list up there would demand more kilometers in the water than is humanly possible.  And baked goods go well with coffee after a swim in chilly (or fresh, in Australian) water.  It took me years to share the recipe for my original version of crumb cake.  There was some magic in being the one swimmer mom with the recipe.  It was a bit selfish.  I'll own up to that.  But now I share pretty freely.  Especially easy to share with my Australian friends who keep trying to rename things I bake because a lot of American baking barely translates.  Bars are slices.  Sure they are.  A donut shop just opened in Manly and one donut is $6.  Sure they are.  Donuts are not $6 baked goods, just so you know, you crazy  people.  Even the one that looks like a certain US Presidential candidate with fairy floss (cotton candy) for hair.  I should be careful who I call crazy.

Let's update the olive oil cake recipe, shall we?  As previously discussed, this olive oil cake is the result of a quest begun after Kelly sent me the most amazing cake from the most amazing Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a birthday when she lived in LA and I lived in Indianapolis.  Look them up online and especially if you ever visit Ann Arbor.  They too do more than bake.  (But side note:  as I was looking up Zingerman's mail order I noticed two things:  1.  It's Rosh Hashanah next Sunday and an early Shanah Tova to my Jewish friends and 2. Zingerman's makes a Buckwheat Honey Cake and I think I need one, whatever it is).  This is now olive oil cake version 4 from my kitchen.  Blood orange season is sadly almost over in Australia.  Any citrus would work, but I have found consistency in sweetness of zest and juice with blood oranges where with lemons and other orange varieties bitterness sometimes shows up when I least like it-maybe the bitter white pith is too easy to nick when zesting, not sure).  If you have tasted a nice blood orange olive oil from a small batch producer at a market or in your travels and you happen to have some in your pantry you can sub out maybe 1/4 of the plain fruity olive oil for the flavored oil.  You probably paid a bit of a dear price for that oil, so keep that in mind.  I always have at least two plain olive oils on hand.  If the label uses "fruity" as a descriptor maybe buy some and give it a try if it's not too expensive.  Bold and peppery oils are not what you are looking for in this sweet recipe.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake (or Olive Oil Cake V4)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 C almond flour (you can use 3 C all purpose flour, but this is V4 for a reason)
1 1/2 C sugar (castor sugar for my Aussie friends)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (sea salt for the Aussies)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 C fruity extra-virgin olive oil (or 3/4 C fruity extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 C blood orange flavored small batch olive oil)
1 C milk (any fat content, I use skim because that's what is in my refrigerator)
3 large eggs (I use 600g eggs, but the more common 700g eggs here are probably fine)
2 T grated blood orange zest (rinse and dry the skin and zest your orange before you juice it)
juice of one small blood orange (no seeds)
1/4 C Grand Marnier
3/4 C sliced almonds (almond flakes)

Preheat oven to 350F or 180C.  Spray a 9 or 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil(s), milk, eggs, juice, zest and Grand Marnier.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and whisk quickly again.  Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the almonds.  Bake for one hour, until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean (or center of cake bounces back when lightly pressed).  I usually have to tent my cake with foil about a half hour in because that cute little oven of mine only holds a steady temperature on the convection setting and I didn't go to all the trouble and expense to burn the top of the cake-so check your cake about half way through (also, use your nose it will probably tell you something like, "Hey your cake might be about to burn, smell it getting nice and toasty?).  Transfer the cake in the pan to a cooling rack and let it cool 30 minutes.  Run a knife around the pan and invert it onto a serving plate if desired.  If you keep it in the pan, it will steam a bit and this is really kind of a good thing.  It's a moist cake regardless.

I recently stored my leftover cake covered in the refrigerator and reheated already sliced pieces on a baking tray at 300F/155 C and the pieces got a bit crisped up on the edges and it was pretty nice that way, so you could toast it but I wouldn't count on slices holding together in a toaster.  Use a baking sheet and parchment or foil for maybe 10 minutes.

This is Version 3, but Version 4 looks just the same.  Cheers.