Sunday, March 14, 2010

Almond Orange Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Happy Pi Day!!  To celebrate, I'm bringing you this, um, cake.  Oops.  No time to make pie this weekend, sorry!  I'll have to catch European Pi Day on July 22 (22/7 is one of the best approximates of pi).

When I got tenure (over a year ago now), my mom and I wanted to go someplace nice in New York.  The problem with lots of nice restaurants in NY?  Not very vegetarian friendly.  I think we've narrowed it down to Daniel's and Babbo, but our celebration dinner has yet to happen (this summer hopefully!)... in the meantime, this cake is by Gina DePalma, pastry chef at Babbo.

This cake is perfect for a Sunday brunch or afternoon meeting or any other time when you'd like something (relatively) light and sweet without totally taking you over into a sugar coma.  It's a somewhat unusual combination of flavors with the citrus, the almonds, and the olive oil - but it works!  And it's Italian.  And did you see how there's brown butter in the glaze? You're going to want to start using this glaze on everything. It's yummy.  And no mixer required - just some whisking and stirring - easy. 


Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

(adapted only slightly from Gina DePalma)

For the Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour (you can finely grind the almonds yourself)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon or 1/2 a medium orange (I used orange)
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed if possible)


The first time I made this, I used 1/2 cup lime juice and 1/2 cup lemon juice instead of the orange juice, and used lemon zest instead of orange zest.  I liked it, but it definitely tasted different.  I prefer the cake made as above, but if you're a huge fan of lime, you may want to experiment with adding some lime juice.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan (the 8-inch will give you a slightly taller cake, but it won't overflow if the sides are 2" tall or higher).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a largebowl, whisk together the eggs to break up the yolks.  Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly  for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely (right-side up) on a rack.

For the Brown Butter Glaze and Assembly

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
1/2 cup slivered almonds

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.  Brown the butter, and let sit (it will continue to get a little darker after you turn off the heat).  

Toast the almonds:  scatter them evenly over a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned.

In a medium bowl, add the milk or heavy cream to the powdered sugar and stir.  Slowly add the browned butter, and stir until smooth.  Add more milk/cream if you'd like the glaze to be a little thinner; add more sugar if you'd like it thicker.  Spread onto the cake with an offset spatula when cool, and allow to drip down the sides of the cake.  Scatter the toasted almonds evenly over the surface of the cake. Enjoy!

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