The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Spanish Orange Olive Cake

February 17, 2011 , , ,

(No terrific TV Tuesday (on Wednesday) dish today. M is out of town. To be picked up again next week.)

My abundance of oranges is leading me to do bad things. Like bake cakes. Unfortunately for me, cake does not fit into my diet. But I couldn’t help it. When I made this cake, it was so cold outside, the piles of snow turning into glaciers growing out of street corners, and I was sooooo tired of wearing two pairs of leggings. I needed to stay in a bake a cake. That was that and the argument in my head was over before it even started.

Whenever I’m in the mood for cake, I reach for “Starting with Ingredients: Baking by Aliza Green”. I can always do a quick search for whatever ingredient I have in house and 99.9% of the time, there is a cake recipe in there for it. This time, the orange search did not disappoint. While I was toying with the idea of making Clementine Pound Cake from Food52, all of the butter frightened me away.

I zeroed in on the Spanish Orange and Olive Oil Cake. There was no butter, little sugar (or so I originally thought), and no vegetable oil. A ½ cup of olive oil was the only fat and olive oil is healthy fat. Over all, this has to be one of the most delicious cakes I’ve made. It’s too bad that it stuck to the pan and I was too embarrassed to give it to anyone but M. It was a little time consuming with all of the egg white whipping and syrup cooking but a delectable success nonetheless.

Original recipe below with notes


7 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour (I used ½ whole wheat flour)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
3 large eggs, separated
1 ¼ c sugar
1 c. milk (you can substitute almond milk)
½ c olive oil
grated zest of one orange (4 tsp)

2 oranges
1 ½c orange juice
1 ½ c sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

Spray your pan with nonstick baker’s spray or coat with butter or oil and dust with flour, shaking off excess. The recipe calls for an 8inch pan. I used a Bundt pan, which worked well despite the sticking.

Whish together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In your standing mixer beat eggs yolks with ½ cup sugar until light and fluffy. About 5 to 6 minutes. (I would cut down to ¼ c sugar at this step.)

While this is doing its thing, whisk together milk, olive oil, and orange zest.

Add to the egg yolk mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, beating just long enough to combine.

In your standing mixture, in a clean, greaseless bowl, beat the egg whites until they are fluffy. Add the remaining ¾ c. of sugar and continue beating until the eggs whites are firm and glossy, 4-6 minutes. (If you would like, cut down to ½ c. sugar at this stage.)

Fold the meringue into the batter one-third at a time. (I didn’t do this but will next time just to see the difference.)

Poor the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan. You can also insert a toothpick and see if it comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool until it is warm to the touch and then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To be honest, at this point the cake is very good. But if you want to take it one step further, follow the below steps.

Make the syrup

Remove rind from both oranges into long, thin strips with minimum of white pith. I did not have the proper tool for this so my rind was too big which caused issues when cutting the cake. (I used these two oranges, plus one extra, to make the required orange juice.)

Bring a small pan of water to boil, add the orange zest. Boil over high heat for one minute, the drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar and blanched orange zest. (Again, cut down on the sugar if you would like. 1c. would be sufficient. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the syrup is lightly thickened. You may need to skim it if the top gets clumpy.

Strain the syrup into a bowl, reserving the orange strips, along with ½ cup of the syrup. (I tossed it right back into the pan.)

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the cake and then pour remaining syrup all over the cake. (Do you see now why you can cut down on the sugar?)

Bring the remaining syrup and zest to a boil and cook down until the syrup thickens and just begins to darken, about 5 minutes. While the mixture is still hot, use a spatula to spread the thick glaze over the top of the cake.

Upon serving, Green suggests peeling two oranges of their membrane and pith and arranging on top of the cake. Because I used a Bundt cake pan, and the fact that there was no serving of the cake, just me leaning over the counter and eating it right from the ‘serving platter,’ I skipped this step.


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I’m glad you’ve been enjoying using my book, Starting with Ingredients: Baking. That cake does tend to stick (because of the large amount of eggs it contains). I use Baker’s Joy to spray the pan, which works really well. If not, rub the pan with softened butter making sure to get in all the bundt ridges then dust with flour, shaking out the excess. The reason for folding in the whites in thirds is to keep them from deflating–since the only leavening in this cake is the air in beaten into the eggs.
As far as the syrup, most Arab-influenced cakes like this one do have a lot of sugar but you can certainly cut back on the amount. Try making it with tangerine and tangerine zest (which is incredibly fragrant) when they come into season. Another favorite of mine in the book is the Pistachio Bird’s Nest Pastries. You’ll need to buy kataif (shredded wheat dough) which is available in Middle Eastern groceries but the rest is easy.

Aliza Green

Aliza Green

September 4, 2011

Thanks for reading Aliza! I love both of your “Starting with Ingredients” books. They are great resources that I use all the time.

I’ve been meaning to pick up some Baker’s Joy but I always manage to miss it when I’m out shopping. I’ll look into the Bird’s Nest Pastries. They sound like they would be a nice fall treat.

Thanks again!


September 5, 2011

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