Monday, June 23, 2014

Caramelized Orange and Almond Cake

Do you have a weak spot for the ubiquitous pineapple upside-down cake from the '60's? My mother and Betty Crocker rocked that cake!  Nostalgia struck when I found this great recipe for one of my favorite combos, oranges and almonds...going in my favorite direction, upside-down! Pretty enough for a surprise birthday celebration to boot! I tweaked things a bit to cut the prep time lower the sugar content and the results were delicious and gorgeous. If you can find them, try using organic blood oranges interspersed with the navel oranges for an even prettier presentation.

Caramelized Orange and Almond Cake
Tip: get your cake ingredients out now so they will be room temperature when you are ready to put the cake together.

Prep the Pan
Butter a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment then butter the top of the parchment.

Make the Topping
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 small organic navel oranges (yep, cuz you're eating the rind!)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Using a rasp grater, finely grate 2 tsp. zest from 1 orange and reserve for the cake. 
Halve that orange and squeeze to yield 3 Tbs. juice.
Trim the ends off the other orange, quarter it lengthwise, and then slice the quarters cross-
wise 1/8 inch thick; set aside. See below.


Combine the butter and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, (Do not walk away from the pan!!) swirl the pan occasionally, until the mixture is evenly colored a slightly darker shade than peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Do not stir during the process! After the mixture darkens, add the orange juice (Carefully, it will bubble-up and steam). Cook, stirring until combined, about 30 seconds. Immediately pour the caramel (yes, you just made caramel!) into the cake pan. Let it sit until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.
Decoratively arrange the orange slices, leaving some space between them for the almonds. Sprinkle the almonds between the orange slices

Make the Cake
Heat  oven to 325°

2/3 cup finely ground almonds (you can usually find this at the natural grocers)
1  1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 3/4 oz. if you are weighing your flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature

To a medium bowl combine, finely ground almonds, flour, baking powder and, salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium
speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved orange zest and the almond
extract, and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) and the
sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until just
combined after each addition.

With a spatula, gently scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan without disturbing the topping. Smooth the surface. Tap the pan firmly against the counter a couple of times to remove any air  bubbles.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Remove the pan, and rearrange any fruit or nuts that have stuck to the parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Your bottom is your top! 

We loved this cake for the bittersweet flavor of the caramelized oranges and the crunch of the almonds. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Contemplation

 Always Be Yourself.
Unless You Can
Be and Mermaid
Then Always Be
                     A Mermaid.   - Unknown 

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