I feel a little gossipy saying this, as if I'm talking smack about a good friend behind her back after she did me wrong, but I am not all that impressed with my latest cookbook purchase. Considering that a dozen recipes on this blog hail from said book's predecessor, New Frontiers in Baking, I had ambitious hopes for the follow up, Baked Explorations.
When I first purchased Frontiers, I couldn't put it down. Even a year after it came into my possession, after I'd already baked half the recipes in the book, I still kept it on my night stand in case I woke up with a late-night craving so I could lick the pages. I still make that original recipe for granola every week for my breakfast (and for Justin, he adores it) and it's still my go-to book for delicious desserts with flair. But this second one, Explorations, I'm not so sure about this one.
I jumped right in with malted milk sandwich cookies, and they were good in their own way, but they didn't pack the punch I've come to expect from the recipes cranked out at Baked. I found that with each chapter, I lost a little excitement, a little more steam, and by the time I got to the recipe for Strawberry Jell-O Pretzel Salad, I thought about returning it. Seriously, Jell-O salad!? I had that one time at my Aunt Trish's bridal shower 15 years ago and I remember looking at it, poking it with my fork, wondering if I should eat something so foreign. I went for it, only because I was already wearing a wedding dress made of toilet paper and feeling a little crazy.
I haven't totally tossed in the towel, there is still a recipe for homemade doughnuts that I want to try, especially since half my paycheck has gone to Krispy Kreme the past few weeks to feed my sick, deranged need to eat as many blueberry cake doughnuts as I can stuff into my cheeks, but anything beyond the breakfast section of this book sort of loses my attention. Luckily for this cake, it was in the breakfast section, and cake for breakfast is always okay with me.
I've seen similar recipes floating around in the past few years for similar cakes - some with almonds, others with lemon zest instead of orange or a mixture of both, some formed into little cakies and others as a full bundt, but the concept is the same - a golden, olive oil batter punched up with a little citrus zest for good measure and nothing beyond a sprinkling of powdered sugar for a crown. I'm not sure why I put it off for so long, maybe because the first version I saw of it was from Giada and I try not to endorse her and her extra-small shirts whenever possible, or if the idea of olive oil in a dessert was too strange for me to latch onto, but here it is, however late in the game.
This cake is just....okay. It's not terribly moist, not dry, but you certainly need a cup of tea to swish it all down. I used tangerines instead of oranges because that's what was in the fruit basket, so perhaps that was my own mistake, but the citrusy zap I was hoping for wasn't there. To top it all off, I hosed that pan down with cooking spray and half the top was still ripped off when I tipped it out of the pan. Fail.
This cake isn't bad, but I have an inkling there are betters out there, I'll be on the prowl.
Olive Oil Orange Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baked: Explorations
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and flour. (The original recipe doesn't say you must flour it if you use non-stick spray, but since my cake is no decapitated, you probably should.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and light; slowly pour in the sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add the yogurt and olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the orange zest and vanilla, and mix until just incorporated.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, beating after each addition until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 5 seconds.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Scoop 1 cup of the egg whites into the batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in. After about 30 seconds of folding, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until they are almost completely combined. Do not rush the folding process - you should "gently fold" until you think your arm may fall off, then it's ready.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transger the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.
This cake can be stored at room temperature, covered tightly, for up to 3 days.