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.


Anonymous said...

hi chika! i was looking at that donna hay recipe last night and wondering how it would turn out. now i know! gorgeous orange colour, but i think i'd rather try the trish/nigella recipe. 

Posted by santos

Anonymous said...

I haven't made Nigella's cake, but I saw her make it on Christmas Bites - her christmas special in the Nigella Bites shows. It looked very easy to make. She baked it at night after the kids went to sleep!

I have made a Whole Citrus Vinaigrette though, from Michael Chiarello. I think the recipe is in Casual Cooking but could be Tra Vigne Seasons. I thought that the pith made it too bitter, but that was my opinion. I love citrus - not grapefruits or kumquats though. Love lemons, meyer lemons, blood oranges (when I can get them) and limes. I was thinking of making Nigella's recipe with Blood Oranges.

This makes me want to try this recipe.

Thanks for your blog.


Posted by RisaG

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

I've got this very good orange cake recipe that I've used many many times and it's so easy to make! It's a fluffy orangey colorful cake to serve with a good tea.

Here it goes:

1 large orange with zest but no seeds, quartered.
3 eggs
Half a cup of vegetable oil
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder

In a blender or good food processor, mix the orange, eggs and oil until you get a creamy liquid with tiny bits of orange zest, it normally takes less than 1 minute.

In a big bowl, sift the flour, sugar and baking powder. Then fold in the liquid cream and mix very gently with a whisker or wooden spoon.

Pour the batter in a cake pan and bake it for around 20-25 minutes, 180ÂșCelsius. Serve, eat and be merry.

Alternatively, you can also pour a juice of one orange on top of the baked cake when it comes out of the oven for an even moisty cake.

I hope you like it!



Posted by Marcia-UK

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

santos - yeah, I'd rather recommand N/T version here... I frankly didn't see a necessity of butter and flour in it.

RisaG - whole citrus vinaigrette! Looks like you can get a lot out of whole citrus, really... I actually made Trish Deseine's version (which is basically the same as Nigella Lawson's) using blood orange when I first tried it, and it tasted good even though the texture of the cake wasn't quite what I had wanted.

Marcia - that cake sounds fablous! I think I have to try that one too since my experiments are still ongoing :) Thanks a lot for sharing it with us! 

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

There's a similar recipe for a flourless cake made w/ boiled, whole oranges and almonds in The New James Beard. I've made it a few times; very moist and dense, almost a pudding like consistency. 

Posted by Paula

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

almost pudding like, that's what I'd say, too. Looks like such recipes using whole, bolied citrus are pretty common. 

Posted by chika