A week ago I had the brilliant idea of making a blood orange cake . A simple cake, light on the sugar and heavy on the citrus. No fancy spices or fancy anything. Unless you consider vanilla extract fancy.
And then the very popular Deb from Smitten Kitchen went and beat me to the punch. Which is rather unfortunate since she’s both a) fantastic, and b) read by like a million and four people on a daily basis. This little humble blog, you should know, is read by closer to one hundred and four. What will people think? That I’m the world’s biggest copy cat. That I’m unoriginal and incapable of coming up with my own ideas? That I read Smitten Kitchen word-for-word and kind of wish that I too lived in NYC with my baby instead of FØR with my baby?
The truth of the matter is, I do very much enjoy Smitten Kitchen. Although this here recipe is quite similar to Deb’s, it’s got it’s own originality and merit. Like the use of butter instead of olive oil (I’ve already done a citrus flavored olive oil cake here) and it’s got the addition of vanilla extract and a little less zest, because I live with a man who, while looking sheepishly at the floor, says things like, “Does this cake have that peel stuff in it?” To which I answer , “ yes it does and you will like it”.
That is, if he knows what’s good for him.
In addition to the zest of one blood orange, this cake has not only the juice of one whole blood orange, but the segmented, zippy, gorgeous flesh of two whole blood oranges. It’s moist, a tiny sweet, and pretty much the perfect cake to have on a cold, but sunny winter afternoon in February. Perhaps a Valentines afternoon??? Enjoy with a cup of Earl Grey on the side, since Earl Grey has bergamot extract and really, what would better perfect the whole citrus theme here?
Blood Orange Cake
Adapted from a recipe on smittenkitchen.com
*makes 12 servings
3 blood oranges
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened
About 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
+ powdered sugar, creme fraiche, or whipped cream for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf pan. Grate zest from 1 orange and place in a large bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar. Add the softened butter and cream the two together.
2. Segment an orange: Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4-inch pieces.
3. Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup; you’ll will have about 1/4 cup. Add buttermilk to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and vanilla extract.
4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Dust with powdered sugar, or serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream, if desired.