May. 23rd, 2014

kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Yesterday I finally baked the boiled-orange cake I've been wanting to try. I used Nigella Lawson's clementine cake recipe, more or less, and although I made a ridiculous number of modifications it turned out very nice.

First of all, instead of clementines (out of season here and not to be had in the market) I used two valencia oranges, and therefore used the slightly larger amount of sugar recommended in the note at the end of the recipe.

Next, I was worried about those six eggs. I like eggs, but I don't like sweet things that taste of eggs, and six eggs sounded like a formula for an orange-flavored omelette. So I used four eggs, and as a substitute for the other two, I used about 6 tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of water. Honestly, given all the moisture from the oranges, I think the cake would have been fine with just four eggs and four tablespoons of oil.

Finally, as I don't own a springform pan of the right size, I used an 8x8 inch (21x21 cm) square glass pan. Because glass pans tend to form a heavy crust, I set the oven at 325 F rather than 375 and cooked for . . . oh, probably almost an hour and a half. When I took the cake out, the skewer was still not coming out clean from the center, but the edges of the cake were browning and pulling away from the pan, so I didn't want to wait longer.

With all those changes it shouldn't have worked, but it did. The result is a gorgeously moist, gorgeously orange-tasting cake. It's fairly heavy and crumbly-textured because it uses almond meal instead of flour, but I'm developing a real fondness for that style of rustic cake. This is in part because I live up in the mountains, and altitude (plus my lack of either a mixer or the strength of arm and character needed to beat together butter and sugar for long periods of time) makes light, delicate cakes difficult to produce. So I'm making a virtue of necessity, but it's a tasty virtue. Both the orange cake and the lemon-almond-polenta cake I made some time back have the power to make delicate cakes seem insipid.

I should note that the cake does have a little bit of a bitter edge to it, like marmalade. But fortunately not as bitter as marmalade, which would have been too much for me. Next time I make this--and it's a cake I definitely plan to make repeatedly--I might try the clementines or some other kind of tangerine, since they have thinner peels and less of the bitter pith.

In other cooking news, I managed to snag some frozen fava beans at Trader Joe's, yay! I've never seen favas there before, and since I've also never seen favas at any local supermarket (except the fresh ones that are a pain in the ass), I was thrilled. So the other night I made some polenta, which I cooked in a new way, by baking. Now that I know that you can just chuck some polenta meal and water in a pan and stick it in the oven for 45 minutes, instead of standing by the stovetop and stirring and anxiously watching in case it scorches for 45 minutes, I will be eating more polenta. Anyway, to accompany the polenta I diced a small (about 2 ounces) Spanish-style chorizo and cooked it in olive oil along with a shallot, then added some favas, bits of sun-dried tomato, and a little chicken stock and simmered for five minutes or so, until the stock was mostly evaporated. I topped the polenta with the fava mixture, grated some Asiago over the whole thing, and enjoyed very much. It was an oddly wintery meal considering it's spring here, but the weather has been pretty cool and I love polenta.


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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