A friend of mine has a tree in his yard that I always suspected was some sort of citrus tree. But for two years, it didn’t produce any fruit whatsoever. This year, however some changes occurred: the house was tented and the tree cut way back, then we had a very wet spring. The result of these happy coincidences is that the tree is now loaded with fruit. And we determined that it is an orange tree. Local oranges in Hawaii are about the same size as a standard naval orange, but they are greener in color when ripe and the ones from this tree don’t seem to have hardly any seeds. Excellent!
Laden with a bag full of freshly picked oranges and a desire to make a simple cake, I went searching for a recipe. I found one that looked promising, converted it to US measurements and made it. It was very good. It was both light and rich and nicely orange flavored. But I was looking for something with a stronger orange flavor. Something that shouted “Orange!” instead of just whispering “orange.” Over dessert, my mom, aunt, and I analyzed the cake and decided upon some adjustments. More zest, more concentrated orange juice . . . And due to my complete lack of measurements when it came to the icing, I ended up with a glaze instead. Poking holes in the cake insured the glaze wouldn’t all run off the edges and I ended up with something I like better than a super sweet icing.
This second orange cake was lovely too. Still not as orange as I’d hoped for, but I think that has to do with the delicate nature of the oranges I used. I’ll be that if you use your run-of-the-mill oranges that you’ll end up with a more strongly orange cake.
For cake the second I ended up with an even runnier glaze (you might want to up the sugar or decrease the OJ if you want something that stays on top of the cake) which served to make the cake even more moist. This is not a bad thing! But, because it was somewhat lacking in presentation panache, I dusted the top with powdered sugar. A nice thought about the glaze? Add some Grand Marnier or rum instead of just OJ. Mmmm . . .
serves 8 – 12, depending on how you slice it
For the Cake:
- 2 sticks lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest (use organic oranges if you can)
- 2 cups AP flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
For the glaze:
- 2 1/2 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest your orange(s) and set aside the zest. Juice the oranges into a small saucepan, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, to just under 3 oz. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9 inch spring-form pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt. In your KitchenAid, or using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the orange zest and beat to mix. Add all of the flour mixture at once and mix on low speed to combine. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the reduced orange juice. The batter will be a little thick.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and spread to level the top. Bake in the center rack for 50-60 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing the sides and bottom of the spring-form pan. Gently turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before placing on a serving plate. Using a skewer, perforate the cake liberally with holes.
Combine the sifted powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. It will be runny. Slowly spoon the glaze over the cake, trying to let the cake absorb as much of the glaze as possible before it inevitably pours over the sides.