outrageous orange cake
Orange sometimes seems to be an under-appreciated fruit; often relegated to overly-acidic store-bought juice, those oddly chunky Julius' you buy in desperation at the mall, or the slices you begrudgingly eat in the dead of winter when few other fruits are in season. But I love oranges, and orange flavor, and the color orange isn't all that bad either. And so, I made a cake that makes orange the star. It's a refreshing treat to make in the dead of winter, but is delicious and celebratory any time of the year. While the recipe seems labor-intensive, the boiling of the oranges can be made ahead, and is (for the most part) hands-off time, meaning you can let them simmer over the course of a lazy weekend afternoon, while you sort laundry or lay on the couch sipping tea and watching old Patrick Swayze movies. Mmmmm...some Saturday Swayze.
For the cake:
• 2 medium naval oranges, preferably organic
• 2 cups super fine almond flour
• 1/3 cup gluten-free finely ground cornmeal
• 2 tbsp. arrowroot starch
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 3 large eggs + 1 egg white
• 3/4 cup honey
• 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
• 1 tsp. orange extract
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
• 12 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
• 1/4 cup orange marmalade, preferably with no sugar added
• 3 tbsp. honey
• 1/2 tsp. orange extract
Make the cake. Place whole oranges (with skin!) in a large pot and fill with enough water that the oranges are fully submerged when you press them down (they will float at first). Bring water to a rapid boil over high heat, and then reduce temperature to medium-high, place a lid on the pot, and continue to gently boil for 1.5 hours, checking on the oranges and stirring occasionally to ensure they aren't catching on fire. When oranges are very soft, remove from the water and allow to cool slightly, then chop the oranges into large chunks, discarding the ends/naval, and any areas of large white pith. Puree orange chunks in a food processor or blender until the consistency of applesauce, then allow orange puree to cool completely. This step can be done a day ahead of time.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8" or 9" round cake pan, and dust lightly with almond flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, cornmeal, arrowroot, baking soda, and salt. In another medium bowl, beat the eggs and egg white on high speed with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the honey, coconut palm sugar, and extracts, and continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the orange puree into the wet ingredients, then fold in the bowl of dry ingredients just until fully combined.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan, and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until edges are golden brown, and center springs back when poked gently with your fingers. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan (I left it overnight). Once cake is cooled, remove from the pan and refrigerate while you make your frosting.
For the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a medium-large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to mix on high speed until frosting has aerated and gotten slightly fluffy.
Frost the cake as you desire and decorate with fresh fruit. I simply mounded the luscious frosting on top, but you could also cut the cake in two pieces for a more traditional layer cake look. Be creative; gentle yet fearless.
Chill the cake until ready to serve.