Based on a Sicilian recipe this moist cake with a springy texture combines the earthiness of olive oil with the brightness of oranges, creating a uniquely Mediterranean flavor profile. Enjoy it plain or with a dash of sea salt if you prefer desserts that are not too sweet. Or to satisfy that sweet tooth drizzle with an orange glaze. Whatever your preference the recipe works best with sweet, juicy oranges such as Valencia.
Based on the recipe Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake in Saveur Magazine, No. 129, May 2010.
2-3 oranges (depending on size) top and bottom peel removed and quartered lengthwise
2 1/3 cups sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1 1/3 cups
2 ½ cups flour, more for dusting baking dish
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
3 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
For glaze combine ¼ cup orange juice with ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Sea salt, optional for garnish
Fill a 3 quart sauce pan half-full of water and bring to boil. Add the orange quarters, return to a boil and then drain. Refill with cold water and repeat the process two more times. Set aside the drained orange quarters.
Using the same 3 quart sauce pan, dissolve 1 cup of sugar into 4 cups of water over medium high heat. Return the orange quarters to the sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes until the orange quarters pierce easily with a fork. Set the sauce pan to the side to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°. Oil/butter and flour a 9”x13” baking dish.
When the oranges have returned to room temperature, remove them from the syrup and take out any seeds. Place them in a food processor and pulse about 12-15 times until the mixture is a coarse purée.
Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar and pulse to combine.
In the meantime whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the orange puree a third at time, pulsing a few times until combined.
Next add the vanilla and eggs to the batter. Process until all ingredients are incorporated.
While the food processor is running add the olive oil in a steady stream.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake 30-40 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
After cake cools for 30 minutes, brush with orange glaze and garnish with sea salt if desired.