Coming back to this space, to write and share has proven much more difficult than I imagined. I seem to let something, anything, steal my time away from here. It could be in deference to my current reality but I think it's something more. My imperfect perfectionist in me is constantly critical in an almost paralyzing way. My images are never quite right, my words don't exactly flow, my recipes probably not the most creative. I know I could do better, yet instead of fueling my desire to improve, these feelings leave me deflated and rather indifferent. Nonsense, you might say, or at least I hope to believe, because surely it should be. I often lose sight of the value of the process, of the natural progression that inches me closer to my goals each time I cook, write, and photograph. But I'm going to simply disregard it all and just share as much as I can all the recipes and photos that have accumulated in my computer. And I'm sure things will turn out imperfectly perfect.
Let's start with this citrus cake. Now that we're quite along winter time, my fruit bowl is bursting with fruits in shades of yellow and orange. From blood oranges to meyer lemons to grapefruits. In our house, we seem to be inhaling the small tangerines by the bags. And those naval oranges whose flesh gives way to a burst of sweet, citrusy juice, are the perfect way to perk up a dreary morning. Just as much as cake. And if you combine cake and sweet citrus, you have an even better combination. This Orange Syrup Cake is superbly moist and sweet enough to complement the pronounced citrus notes. The cake itself is pleasantly sweet and carries a dense crumb. You could skip the candied orange step. I found that most people politely pushed them to the side, though they do look pretty. I would not, no, never skip the syrup step. It adds so very much to taste and texture and we can't play around with that.
Orange Syrup Cake with Candied Oranges
adapted from Jerusalem, the cookbook, via David Lebovitz
4 oranges, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups sugar
200g vegan butter, like earth balance
240g almond meal
3/4 cup flour
4 large eggs
pinch of salt
3/4 cup orange and lemon juice (from the zested citrus)
6 tablespoons sugar
Candied Orange Slices
1 orange, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
In a food processor or small chopper, grind the citrus with the sugar and process until finely ground.
With a stand or hand mixer, beat the vegan butter with the zest sugar mixture until well combined.
Using the processor again, pulse the almond meal, flour, and salt. Add half the almond mixture to the butter and then mix in the eggs one by one, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, add the remaining almond mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean yet a little moist.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by bring the citrus juice and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Once the cake comes out of the oven, liberally brush on the syrup while the cake is hot.
To make the candied oranges, put the slices in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them well. Bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain well. Put them back in the saucepan with the sugar and water and cook on medium heat until they are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Once you soaked the cake with the syrup, place the candied oranges on top and serve the cake.