Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Orange Blossom Cake

Orange Blossom Cake

As we approach spring I am already in anticipation of the fragrant air in my backyard. You see, I have an enormous grapefruit tree and very large lemon tree. I’d say that they have both been there for a good 30+ years. Every spring I get about a month’s worth of lovely, bright perfume from the millions of blossoms covering the trees.
I’m sure there must be some uses for these fragrant blossoms commercially, but you never hear about them. Even a Google search didn’t reveal much. Orange blossoms, on the other hand, are definitely used to make orange blossom water, an ingredient used in Middle Eastern cooking. It has been used increasingly in Western cooking, primarily in desserts.  I use rose water often, but had never used orange blossom water before.
When we were at the Fancy Food Show in January I stopped at the Nielsen Massey booth. They are best known for their vanilla, but I noticed that they had rose and orange blossom waters. The orange blossom water is made from Seville bitter orange from Spain and the Middle East. It complements vanilla, almond, and, of course, citrus flavors.
I searched the internet and found this recipe from a BBC site. It reminds me of my Rustic Lemon Cake, except this one is not gluten free. This recipe does use metric measurements


ORANGE BLOSSOM CAKE
ADAPTED FROM BBCGOODFOOD.COM

FOR THE CAKE
  • 200g self-raising flour , sifted
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs , beaten with a fork
  • 250g Greek yogurt
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 1 zested lemon

FOR THE ORANGE SYRUP

  • 150ml water
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 orange , juiced and 2 strips of zest
  • ½ juiced lemon
  • 5 crushed cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp orange flower water
  • icing sugar and crème fraîche or Greek yogurt, to serve 
  1. To make the syrup, put the water, sugar, rind, citrus juices and cardamom into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. It will thicken and become syrupy as it cools. Cool then strain and add the orange flower water.
  2. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter or oil a 20cm spring-form tin. Put all the dry ingredients for the cake in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and make a well in the center. Put all the rest of the ingredients in the well and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the wet ingredients. Spoon into the tin and bake for half an hour. A skewer pushed into the middle of the cake should come out clean, if not give it a little longer.
  3. Leave for 10 minutes to cool in the tin, then turn onto a plate. Pierce all over with a skewer and, while the cake is still warm, slowly pour over the syrup. Leave to soak in. Dust with icing sugar just before serving - the sugar just disappears into the syrupy top otherwise - and serve with crème fraîche or yogurt.
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