Thursday, June 16, 2011

California sunshine

For a professed non-baker, the number of cake posts seems to be increasing rather fast, but that's just too bad - or good. For a dessert last week I made one I found years ago in a US vegetarian cookbook. (I kept only this one recipe and have since lost the book, so I can't recall who wrote it.) I know New Zealand oranges are really out of season, but as it's a Californian recipe, I thought it would be okay to use Californian oranges.      
        The original quantities contain mysterious US measurements like "a stick of butter" (about 60 grams, so my American friends tell me). The recipe also specifies " "buttermilk" (I use half milk and half plain yoghurt) and "pastry flour", which is apparently halfway between "cake flour" (only 8 to 9 percent protein) and normal flour (11% protein or more). We don't have either cake flour or pastry flour - well, I've never seen any here - but I just use normal standard flour and it seems to work fine.

Californian orange and raisin cake

2 oranges
1 cup seedless raisins
60 g butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk, mixed with 1/3 cup plain yoghurt
2 cups sifted white flour
1 tsp baking soda
another 1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange flavoured liqueur (I use a cheapish triple sec, it's less sweet)

- Set oven to 180C.
- Prepare cake tin - a well greased ring tin carefully lined with paper on the bottom works well, or use a medium-sized square tin lined with baking paper - have it coming up the sides and extending a little beyond the rim so you can lift the cake out easily later.
- Juice the oranges, strain juice and set it aside. Grind the two orange rinds in a food processor with the raisins.
- Add all other ingredients except the orange juice, and process just to combine.
- Spread evenly in tin and bake for about 45 minutes - a square tin takes a little longer - until a skewer ot thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While cake is baking, mix 3/4 cup of the orange juice, the second 1/4 cup sugar, and the liqueur in a jug.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, spoon this liquid evenly all over the top.
- When the cake is almost cold and has absorbed the liquid, either lift it carefully out of the square tin using the bake paper, or for a ring tin, turn it carefully out onto a plate and then immediately invert it onto another plate so the top is again on top.

It has a really fruity, moist texture and tastes beautifully orangey, but not too sweet - I use less sugar than the original recipe. I'm afraid this is the last slice (yes, once again I forgot to snap it before we ate it), and it's a bit fuzzy - the photo, not the cake. If you have leftover cake, keep it in the fridge and take it out ahead of time, or warm it up gently, if you want to serve it for dessert - it shouldn't be eaten really cold. You can serve it with whipped cream, slightly flavoured with orange liqueur, or with yoghurt - vanilla is nice.

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