Blood orange season makes me so happy. Those beautiful orange skins blushing with hues of red that give way to dark, sweet-tart citrus flesh… I think it’s such a special fruit. I’m not generally any sort of orange enthusiast, but when it comes to blood oranges, all of a sudden I’m looking for any excuse to spruce up baked goods with a little zest or juice! This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is Adult Hot Chocolate, which didn’t appeal to me because I’d rather eat than drink my sugar calories, so I decided to go rogue (as we say in the group when someone chooses a different recipe). Instead, I went with one of the recipes from Baked Explorations that I’ve always wanted to make: Mom’s Olive Oil Orange Bundt Cake… except I made it a Blood Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake. It was perfect to adapt with blood oranges, and I happened to have a bottle of blood orange olive oil on hand, so I was hoping for a cake with bright citrus flavor and a hint of orange color.
I ended up making the cake twice because my kitchen scale decided to go on the fritz as I was weighing ingredients for this recipe, so that was just awesoooome. I kept maddeningly trying to get accurate reads on flour and sugar, and I had a feeling that my flour was a little heavy. I finally broke down and used a measuring cup for the sugar, but flour can be so different when measured by volume, so I tried in vain to get an accurate weight reading. I’m really glad I re-made the cake after getting a new scale, because the first one was, in fact, a touch dry (too much flour), and the orange flavor was on the light side, so I was able to correct for both issues the second time.
The cake is very easy to pull together. First off, when greasing the Bundt pan, I highly recommend actually taking the time to butter it. With butter. I used to use cooking spray for
laziness ease and convenience, but after a few cakes that stuck in the pan, I actually tried softened butter and flour, and it works like a charm– 100% clean-release success rate so far, so I’ll never go back to Pam spray.
The first step is beating the egg yolks until they are pale and light; I let them mix for 5 minutes and wouldn’t characterize them as ‘pale and light’– maybe a tiny bit paler? Anyway, I then streamed in the sugar, and the mixture was very crumbly (like pebbles) before smoothing out just a little. The next additions are yogurt and olive oil, the latter of which I also streamed in, just in case the full amount of oil all at once would prevent the mixture from emulsifying. (Not sure if this was necessary, but it’s happened to me before.) This was followed by vanilla bean paste and blood orange zest, which made the batter so fragrant! I upped the quantity of zest the second time (4 medium blood oranges) to boost the orange flavor. The last addition with the mixer paddle is a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt, added in two batches. The batter was so thick the first time, more like a dough, but the second time, it had a much more appropriate consistency– thick, but still very much a cake batter.
The very last step is whipping egg whites to stiff peaks and folding them into the batter. I had a great revelation with this recipe– I used a copper bowl for the first time, and I will never look back! Having heard that it makes for better whipped egg whites, I’d bought one a while back but kept forgetting about it (also, it’s annoying to clean); I often have egg white liquid left over in the bottom of my mixing bowl, and with my batter being so thick, I wanted to maximize the lift that my cake would get from the egg whites, so I finally decided to set my copper bowl on its maiden egg-white-beating voyage. They were in fact lovely– glossy, hydrated, and fully whipped. The egg whites then get folded in two additions into the orange-olive oil batter.
My cake baked for 47 minutes, and I flipped it out of the pan (successfully– thanks, butter!) after 30 minutes. It was a rather oddly shaped Bundt– the cake set pretty low on the edges in the oven, but rose a lot in the middle, such that the bottom of the cake when right-side-up was very round. The book photo looked something like that, so I figured it was fine.
The cake is simply garnished with confectioners’ sugar in the book, but there is an optional glaze made by combining 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and ¼ cup (blood) orange juice. I decided to make the glaze because of its pretty pink color for Valentine’s Day this week. It was definitely a nice aesthetic addition, but in truth, it was totally not necessary for the cake flavor (as stated in the book). I had to add an extra ¼ cup or so of sugar, and it was still quite thin– next time I’d add a couple of tablespoons of cream to thicken it and take the edge off the sweetness.
I don’t know what it is about Bundt cakes (seem healthier than frosted cakes? cuttable in thin slices? easy to eat with your hands?), but this cake was gone in less than an hour once I put it out at work! Rave reviews all around, and I liked the more pronounced orange flavor and lighter, fluffier texture of the second version. If you don’t have orange olive oil on hand, it’s best to use a fruity extra-virgin olive oil and it will be equally lovely.
Should you want to make this cake (and you should), you can find the recipe for Blood Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake at Baked Sunday Mornings from way back when the group made it in 2011 before I was a member. Simply sub zest from 4 medium blood oranges for the regular orange zest and blood orange olive oil if you can find it, and the rest is the same. Also check out the Adult Hot Chocolate from the other bakers this week! Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.