In Season

Lime, Basil, and Mandarin Salad

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Orange Olive Oil Cake

December is hard. Every year I think it will get easier. This year I even looked forward to December, hoping for some quiet time to reflect. In the middle of it all I rarely realize how challenging it is. 40 below and no daylight during the week. I go to work in the dark, there are no windows in my office, and I leave in the dark. I will admit they don't chain me to my desk, but staring out into the ice fog and looking for the sun that is just barely above the horizon is not really incentive enough to leave my office.When it is all over and January finally arrives I suddenly realize I have come out of my own personal ice fog.  December is hard in Fairbanks.
January on the other hand is quite literally the light at the end of the tunnel. I have had two weeks off at home to crank up the wood stove and throw open the blinds and let in the light. Each and every day the light increase by 3 minutes. It is noticeable in so many ways. January is also when the citrus starts finding its way into our kitchen. Each year I do some serious research trying to find sources that will ship fresh citrus fruit to Fairbanks. Until this year the only place I could find was the Lemon Ladies Orchard in California. This year with the motivation of making this cake I was determined to find someone to ship me some naval oranges. One by one I went through lists of online citrus companies reading through their shipping policies and finally came across The Orange Shop in Florida. Next, to find the olive oil. The recipe calls for a light and fruity olive oil. I couldn't think of a better place to look for a good olive oil than Zingerman's. They list theirs by flavor profile in their catalog, so I thought it would be easy to pick one out. After reading all the descriptions online I still wasn't sure which one would be best. I sent off an e-mail to the customer service department along with a link to the recipe. I was so glad I did, they were so helpful and suggested the perfect olive oil for this cake. The online description didn't sound quite right, but they assured me this was the one. They were right. The day I made the cake my house smelled like an orange grove. As directed I waited an entire day to cut into the cake. It was perfectly moist and the flavor was subtle enough to make the cake feel light after a rich meal. The best part was the following day. The sliced end that had been exposed to the air was still perfectly moist and the flavor had intensified. I had a piece for breakfast.  A few hours later the sun came up and the temperatures pushed above zero. I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

adapted (so slightly) from Leite's Culinaria

Nonstick baking spray with flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
5 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 3 oranges
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juiceConfectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling


Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and  heat to 350°F. Coat a 12-15 cup Bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment,  beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just combined, do not over beat. Pour in the orange juice and zest and stir for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then cover and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.


  1. This is beyond gorgeous! Absolutely amazing photos!

  2. I wish I'd been there to smell your kitchen -but then I'm too greedy to wait an entire day to cut into something like this! I too, find December hard, but I am humbled and feel like such a whiner complaining about our darkness and cold compared to what you endure every winter. Keep looking towards that light at the end of the tunnel!

  3. Beautiful cake. I can't wait to try it!

  4. A wonderfully timed recipe for a glorious cake - my dear Dad has just turned 80 (very much 80 years young), only his insides have become lactose intolerant. He'll be able to have this for further special occasions.

    Happy New Year and super thanks for your recipe,

    Michelle, downunder in the summer of Wellington, New Zealand

  5. Beautiful winter cake! I wonder if it works in a regular cake pan?

  6. I think it would be a strange texture for a regular cake pan, but I bet two bread pans would work fine. That way you could still slice like a bundt.

  7. Lovely! I do so love olive oil in a cake. It makes for the most moist comforting texture. I make a similar version with Meyer Lemons and vanilla seeds. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi! First time visiting, fell in love with your cake! So gorgeous!


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comments.

Related Posts with Thumbnails