Last night, we were lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve with our good buddies, Ed and Natalie. This has been our third year in a row partying it up – and by partying it up, I mean sparklers and a nice spiral ham. We tried watching Dick Clark on television, but it was awfully heartbreaking, so Natalie ended up showing me her new Kindle instead. Yes, it was a totally wild night, and we’re just lucky things didn’t spiral out of control.
So Natalie asked me to bring dessert, which you know I’m more than happy to oblige – and to make it better, I used a recipe from the cookbook she gave me for Christmas. A beautiful book, it’s called Apples for Jam. Every recipe has a picture to go along with it, and throughout the book are scattered little drawings that her children have done and stories of how the recipes came to be. Anyway, this is the first recipe I’ve made, and it was very straightforward and didn’t have a lot of ingredients.
Orange juice and olive oil cake with pine nuts
Makes 2 8 1/2″ round cakes.
What you need:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. superfine sugar*
- 1/4 c.firmlypacked light brown sugar
- 3/4 c. olive oil
- 3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 heaping tsp. baking powder
- finely grated rind of 1 orange**
- 1 c.freshly squeezed orange juice (juice of about 4 oranges)***
- 1/2 c. pine nuts ****
* Don’t have superfine sugar on hand? No worries. It’s not like we don’t already have enough going on that we need to remember to pick up superfine sugar on top of everytthing else. Just take your regular granulated sugar, throw it in a food processor for 15 seconds, and voila – it’s superfine!
** If you don’t have a zester, just use a smalll cheese grater.
*** I DID NOT use fresh orange juice. For me, that would just take this recipe to a place called Extra Work that I don’t want to be. I used regular, pulp-free orange juice.
**** Pine nuts. I’m not sure if you’ve priced pine nuts lately, but when I saw them, I seriously considered scrapping this recipe altogether. But. I decided to just pay it up. However, after tasting the cake, if you want to use another mild nut I think it would be just fine.
What you need to do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush 2 81/2″ springform pans with olive oil and dust with flour.
- Whip the egg whites in a large bowl until they are firm and snowy white. Set aside.
- Whip the yolks with the vanilla until they bulk up and become foamy.
- Whisk the superfine and brown sugars into the yolks; then add the olive oil, bit by bit, mixing well after each addition.
- Add the flour, baking powder, rind and orange juice. Beat until you have a smooth batter.
- Gently fold in the egg whites.
- Scrape the batter out, evenly divided between the two pans. Sprinkle each cake with pine nuts (I also added a bit more orange rind here).
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the tops are golden and crusty and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
- This will keep well in sealed container for 4-5 days.
Okay, let me just tell you right now that my initial run on this cake was a wee bit of a baking disaster. I missed step number 2, because it didn’t actually say to set aside the egg whites (and precisely why I added that direction here). And…..because I didn’t read the directions carefully enough. So. I ended up doing all of the steps until I got to the end and saw step number 6 – at which point I let out a slew of – ahem – commentary that could only be described as “Mad Sailor”. I decided I would just throw in the egg yolks and hope for the best (this is why I’m not showing you the finished cake – the picture below is right before it hit the oven). The cake was fine, albeit very dense and dry – but you could tell it had a lot of potential for goodness. I’ll be making it again – and next time? It’ll be right.