February 18, 2005
whole citrus experiments
I like this idea of using whole orange in cake. By "whole" I mean everything - zest, peel, pulp, seeds, everything. I first came across this idea almost a year ago in Clotilde's post about her experiment with a recipe from a Trish Deseine book called mes petits plats preferes (2002, Marabout), which has now become one of my favorite cookbooks. (The basically same recipe, by the way, can be found in here by Nigella Lawson.)
Soon after reading the post I tried the recipe myself to find the cake was really orange-y yet its texture was a bit too grainy. There were several factors that I could attribute the failure to; I didn't grind the almonds fine enough, I didn't blend the batter well enough, etc. I resolved to give it another try, I meant it - and forgotten for quite some time, until a couple of months ago when I found another such recipe in Donna Hay magazine Issue 16.
In Donna Hay's recipe, the idea was the same - boil and puree the whole oranges and blend in everything else to it to make the batter - but the composition of the ingredients was somewhat different; this one's got butter and flour in it, whereas Trish Deseine's and Nigella Lawson's use only oranges, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, and baking powder. I was interested in how these two similar but slightly different recipes would turn out.
And at the beginning of this year, I made whole-citrus cake "Trish Deseine/Nigella Lawson version". I used kumquats that were just in season back in Japan; in fact, it was the first cake I made this year - and it turned out pretty good.
This time I used store-bought fine ground almonds, and processed everything in a blender. The cake was extremely dense and moist, and yet refreshing thanks to kumquats, with which I also made compote and served with the cake. I was happy with the results this time.
Then yesterday I tried Donna Hay's recipe using ugly but juicy tangelo, a hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit. The making of batter is, again, like a breeze - once the oranges are cooked, the batter will be done in a matter of couple of minutes, although I was a little nervous about processing flour along with all the other ingredients. To me, blending flour too much in cake batter doesn't sound a very good idea as it could make the cake chewy and glutenous. But I followed the recipe anyways and put everything, including flour, in the blender and ran it.
The cake, it turned out, was pretty dense like the other one, but a bit too chewy as I had suspected. It tasted fine, especially with some strips of candied orange peel which gave a nice contrast of texture.
I don't know if that was because of overmixing flour or something else went wrong... while it tasted good, I still don't think this was successful enough for me to compare to the other cake and determine which one would be better. One thing I can tell now is that, if one isn't significantly better than the other, I'd go for the one that doesn't use butter... without it, the cake would still be very rich and tasty.
posted by chika at: 2/18/2005 12:19:00 AM