I am both stubborn and stupid. Only I would refuse to give up on an orange cake, a cake that, when placed in a bakery, would receive the same treatment as a knock-kneed asthmatic during team selection in P.E. I don’t need to ask you when the last time you looked at the clock at 3:30pm and sighed, wishing for a large slice of orange cake. I know the answer: never. No one ever pushed back from an Excel pivot table and said, “Damn, what I would do for a slice of orange cake!”
But I persevered. I had three trees worth of oranges to use up, and I wasn’t about to see them rot (like I did last year). I researched conversions and in my first attempt did some complicated density-ingredient-analysis. We all know how that turned out. This past week I decided to simplify everything and use metric. Out came the scales and bowls. Two hours later, I had an orange cake sitting on the counter.
That makes me stubborn. What makes me stupid is that I don’t like cake. So after all this baking and sampling and researching and scrapping and baking I can with confidence declare that my orange cake tastes…like cake. And orange. Yay?
Yay. Not because I suddenly grew to love cake, but because the boys loved it and I loved the sight of a homemade cake next to their school pictures and a vase of (what else?!) Rosemary. Years ago, when we were doing our kitchen remodel, I told The Mister I wanted our kitchen–our entire home, really–to look and feel like warm cookies and milk. Two happy boys and a slice of orange cake isn’t a bad compromise to make.
Doña Petrona Orange Cake
adapted from El Libro de Doña Petrona, edición 81
I’m amazed at the color of this cake. I don’t know if it’s because I used fresh orange juice and zest, but it really does have a lovely citrus glow to it. The original recipe called for a simple glaze icing, which is nice, but my boys love chocolate. I couldn’t resist such a classic winter combination.
The metric measurements are as presented in the book, with the exception of salt and vanilla, both of which are my additions. The U.S. measurements are from various online calculators. I’m confident with all of them except the flour. If you batter looks loose, try adding more flour by the tablespoon. The original recipe called for the eggs separated and the whites beaten to soft peaks. I’ve come to find out this is a technique James Beard used to lighten pound cakes. I’m lazy, and didn’t want to clean any more bowls. I mixed in the eggs one at a time after creaming the sugar. I may try it again separating the eggs. Then again, I may never bake an orange cake ever again.
For the cake
200 gr. | 14 tablespoons butter, softened
200 gr. | 1 cup sugar
420 gr. | 3 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup orange juice
the zest of one orange
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the hard chocolate glaze
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (depending on how sweet you like things)
- Heat oven to 350º
- Butter and flour (or Pam up) one bundt cake.
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
- Add vanilla to orange juice in small measuring cup.
- Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or large bowl.
- Add one egg at a time, mixing completely before the addition of each egg
- Add flour mixture and orange juice mixture, alternating in thirds, ending with the flour mixture.
- Fold orange zest into batter.
- Plop batter into bundt pan and smooth the top, if necessary. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Start checking at 45 minutes. I let mine go without checking to 55 minutes, and you can see it’s over-baked on the bottom.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and milk. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Immediately pour over partially cooled cake.