I can’t think of anything more Sicilian than olive oil cake and blood oranges. This Easter, I went looking for something to do with blood oranges, as they are at farmers’ markets in Los Angeles at the moment. They are only around for about 3-4 weeks so it was now or never (at least for this year). You certainly can substitute regular oranges although go for smaller sweeter ones.
I came across this recipe in the NY Times which I successfully doubled for the 12 people we had over for Easter. But I was also inspired by the olive oil cake made by the sous-chef Merrin at my favorite LA Italian restaurant, Sotto. I added honey whipped cream and crema Inglese (English Trifle cream) as she does, although these are my attempts at the creams. @sottola also adds roasted grapes.
I hope you enjoy this and thanks again to Sotto Restaurant for the inspiration. They are also on Facebook.
This recipe will easily serve 12 people with ample leftovers.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake – Ingredients and Direction:
Butter for greasing the cake pan
6 blood oranges with healthy skins, rinsed and dried well with paper towels
2 cups sugar
Approx. 1 cup (see below) European-style yogurt (Trader Joe’s carries this)
2-1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1-1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
9″ x 13″ rectangular cake pan
Citrus zester or rasp zester
Two large stainless steel bowls, 1 small stainless steel bowl
1 quart measuring cup
Large wire whisk
Wire cooling rack
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cake pan by placing 1 tablespoon of butter in a paper towel and rub all over the the inside of the cake plan including the corners.
Put the sugar in a large stainless steel bowl. Grate the zest from 4 (of the 6) oranges into the sugar. Reserve the oranges. Using your hands, rub the zest into the sugar until well distributed and combined with the sugar.
In one of the large stainless bowls, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk the ingredients together.
Supreme four of the oranges into a small bowl. This is the technique of removing the segments from the oranges, cutting them out of the membranes. Remove any seeds from the oranges and break them up into small pieces with your fingers.
At this point you’ll have 2 blood oranges left. Into a 1 quart measuring cup, juice the oranges. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice. Don’t worry if it’s less. Add enough of the yogurt to make 1 1/3 cups total of the liquid.
Pour the blood orange juice and yogurt mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and whisk well again. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones.
Now using a spatula, fold in the olive oil – a little at a time. Add the blood orange pieces and gently fold into the batter.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan – scraping out the remaining batter with the spatula. Smooth the top.
Bake the cake in the oven for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake should be golden brown.
Let the cake cool until you can handle the pan. Flip the cake out onto a cutting board and then onto a wire cooling rake.
Serve with the honey whipped cream and crema Inglese.
Honey Whipped Cream – Ingredients and Direction:
This could not be simpler. Dissolve some honey into whipping cream. Don’t use too much, perhaps 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of whipping cream. Whip the cream as you would normally. The whisk attachment in a KitchenAid stand mixer easily does the trick. It takes 5 minutes or less to whip.
Crema Inglese – Ingredients and Direction:
Crema Inglese is the pastry cream used in the Italian dessert Zuppa Inglese. Google this recipe name to find lots of crema Inglese recipes. This one is from La Cucina Italiana.
1 cup whole milk (do not use low-fat milk)
Zest from one lemon
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Large wire whisk
Add the milk and lemon zest of a pot and place on medium-high heat. Bring to just short of a boil and then remove from heat. Keep a close eye on this. Milk boils over quickly when it comes to a boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Slowly add the flour and whisk into the mixture. Add the vanilla and whisk.
Very slowly add the egg-sugar mixture to the hot milk whisking as you do. Be sure to do this slowly and whisk well or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.
Put the pot back on the stove over medium-high heat and whisk until the mixture thickens. About 5 minutes.
Let the crema cool somewhat, cover with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Photo courtesy of Michele Becci – ouritaliantable.com