Tag Archives: Orange

Whole orange bundt cake

You read that right. This is a cake that uses an entire orange. Two of them, actually–zest, pith, flesh, and all, blitzed into a chunky puree and folded right into the batter. It’s the orangiest orange cake I’ve ever had, and I’m pretty smitten.

I was introduced to the whole-orange cake idea when a friend texted me a photo of a recipe page in a magazine and challenged me to try it. The resulting cake was a hit: suffused with orange flavor and shot through with flecks of zest. But it was also a pain in the ass to make. It required beating egg whites and yolks separately, thus dirtying three bowls and a food processor by the time I’d finished. After we licked the cake plate clean, I stared at the sink full of dishes and decided to look for a better solution.

This version, which I found on Food52, checks all the boxes. It’s a snap to make, requiring one bowl plus a food processor or blender. It’s got an intensely orangey flavor, fragrant and slightly bitter, with lots of those chewy zest-flecks that I love. The texture is fluffy and moist, but still dense enough to qualify as a classic bundt cake. (I’ve taken to swapping out a bit of the butter for olive oil, both for flavor and to keep the cake from drying out after it’s cut.) It’s simple, attractive, just the kind of thing you want as an after-dinner treat when company’s over. I’ve even served it as a birthday cake, and it was greatly appreciated.

The original recipe calls for an orange juice glaze to top the cake. I use lemon juice instead, so that the crackly surface has some sharpness to contrast with the bittersweet cake underneath. And while I love the plain orange-ness of this cake, you could certainly use this as a canvas for all sorts of flavors. Maybe next time I’ll blitz some fresh rosemary or anise seeds in with the oranges, or swap out the vanilla extract for almond. And I haven’t yet tried this with other citrus–I suspect the recipe will require some tweaking–but will report back if I do.

whole orange bundt cake

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Candied citrus peels

Just under the wire before Christmas, here’s an edible gift idea: candied citrus peels. Start them tonight, and they’ll be ready by Saturday.

I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s probably my greatest kitchen love-hate relationship. On the one hand, candied citrus peels are incredibly delicious, a real show-offy gift, and a great way to use up food scraps. On the other hand, making them is labor-intensive. Not difficult or complicated–just a lot of f’n work.

That said, this is the kind of elaborate kitchen project that even a rank newbie can take on. All you need is a sharp knife, a pot or two, a lot of water and some sugar, and a place to set your peels to dry. Beyond that, what matters isn’t skill so much–it’s patience.

Below is a long, elaborate explanation of how I do this. The short version is: peel yourself some citrus and cut the peels into pieces. Blanch the peels in boiling water a few times. Simmer the peels in simple syrup for about an hour. Lay the peels out to dry for a day or two. Coat the dried peels in sugar or chocolate. Done.

I usually save citrus peels in the freezer and make a big batch of candy every few months. Every time, about 24 hours into the process, I wonder why I got myself into this. Then I take a nibble, and remember: oh, yeah. It’s because candied citrus peels are amazing.

candied grapefruit peel sugared

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Orange mocha frappuccinos

Anyone who’s spent any length of time with me–say, more than 10 minutes–knows that I am a huge fan of Zoolander. It’s one of my five desert island movies, hands down. When it first came out, I avoided it, since Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell usually grate on me like crazy, and I’m usually too buttoned-up and serious for movies this goofy. But then I caved in and watched it, and fell under its spell. It’s a dumb movie written by smart people. It’s silly, but sharp underneath.

And it’s insanely, obnoxiously quotable. My parents, siblings, and I will throw around Zoolander quotes at the least possible provocation. Whenever we’re indignant about something, it’s always, “What is this?!? A center for ANTS?!?” If someone coughs, even once, for any reason, you better bet someone will pipe up, “I think I’m getting the black lung.” And, of course, there’s never a bad time for “Orange mocha frappuccinos!!!”

So when my friend Lucia decided to put together a Zoolander-themed party, there was no question that orange mocha frappuccinos would be on the menu. But, surprisingly, when I started poking Google for ideas, there weren’t many recipes to choose from. A lot of folks seem to have done orange mocha flavored things–cupcakes, mousse, actual mocha drinks–but not frappuccinos. With any normal recipe, I would take that as a hint that it was perhaps not the best idea. But I was determined. We needed orange mocha frappuccinos, or the party would be ruined. So I decided to doctor a more traditional frappuccino knockoff recipe with some orange syrup and homemade chocolate syrup, and see what happened.

So did it work? Well…yes, and no. Honestly, there’s a reason you don’t often see coffee and orange paired together–it just tastes funny. Coffee and chocolate are wonderful, and chocolate and orange are wonderful, but all three mashed together make a bit of a flavor muddle. (Things improved marginally with a couple shots of vodka added to the blender, though that may have been the vodka talking.) That said, as a party drink to suit a theme, this more than fit the bill. It was totally drinkable, and awfully fun. I’d recommend it to anyone who needs a sugary, spikeable beverage to take to a gasoline fight.

orange mocha frappuccino

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Orange vanilla sherbet

This is my favorite thing I’ve made in an ice cream machine so far. Hands down.

Seriously, y’all. This stuff is phenomenal. It’s creamy and indulgent, but not heavy, and it floats on a spoon like ice cream. The flavor is intensely, almost explosively orange, with a wallop of brightness in each bite. It’s reminiscent of a Creamsicle, or rather, of what a Creamsicle wishes it could taste like: sweet but not babyish, lush but not dense. And it’s even pretty too, with pinpricks of vanilla and tiny shreds of orange zest scattered throughout.

This is about as decadent as sherbet gets: a whole cup of cream, a whole vanilla bean’s worth of seeds, and a full shot of triple sec. That’s not an apology, mind you. I love how this is the kind of dessert you could imagine kids going nuts for (minus the booze), but also the kind of thing you can happily pamper yourself with as a grown-up. It’s refreshing and luxurious, and–dare I say it–even a little sexy.

The secret weapon here is fresh orange juice. And by fresh, I do mean squeezed. It takes a fair number of oranges to make enough juice for a batch of sherbet, but there really is no comparison. I’m lucky, and have a friend with an incredibly prolific orange tree; if you don’t, just go for the juiciest oranges you can find, the ones you would be happy eating out of hand. I can imagine this working gorgeously with tangerines, too, if you can get those more easily. Oh, and orange juice freezes beautifully, so if oranges are cheap and juicy in winter, just buy ’em, juice ’em, and store the juice till the weather heats up. I made my sherbet with frozen thawed juice, and it still blew my mind.

This sherbet is so flavorful and dreamy that just a small scoop is enough to satisfy (yes, really). On a hot-and-sticky summer afternoon, with the windows open and the fan droning, there’s absolutely nothing better.

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Birthday cake the second

But wait, you say.  Isn’t this a blog about, like, making food that doesn’t kill you?  And didn’t you just post about birthday cake not too long ago?  And didn’t said cake involve a veritable orgy of butter and eggs?  Why, yes.  Yes, I say.

So what’s my excuse?  Well, it was my mother’s birthday on Saturday.  (Happy birthday, Mom!)  So of course I had to make a cake.  You wouldn’t begrudge my sweet, lovable mama a homemade cake on her birthday, would you?  Huh?  Huh?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

And besides, this cake is even healthy.  Kind of.

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