Blood oranges and olive oil
Two things that don’t sound especially appealing in a cake; the first because of its slightly gruesome name, the second because it’s more usually associated with savoury cooking. But I can assure you both not only belong in a cake, they are positively dreamy there. This cake is brilliant gluten-free because the oil makes it wonderfully moist, giving it a light crumb. Because oil is liquid at room temperature whereas butter is solid, it’s not as dry or crumbly as other cakes might be. However, the olive oil isn’t just for the texture but the taste; the fresh, grassiness of the oil sings through, with a little bit of citrus to balance it out. The cake doesn’t taste like any cake you’ve had before but is simply amazing; delicious, intriguing, sweet and tangy, light, fluffy, I could go on but I’d bore you. This is probably the most perfect cake I’ve ever made, despite it nearly being a complete disaster (my fault, not the recipe). A forgiving recipe, a very forgiving cake. Apparently it lasts well too without going stale, but I’m afraid it didn’t stick around long enough for me to be able to comment.
Frankly it’s a wonder this cake turned out at all. First one of my only two eggs was, well, wrong. It was missing some of its shell, and although the egg felt heavy, when I tipped it up, the membrane holding the contents in place didn’t stretch as it should when a liquid hits it. It just billowed slightly. Fearing that if I cracked it and a dead chick landed in my sugar it would put me off baking for a very long time, I discarded it, and then had to make the recipe with only 1 egg. I countered by using what turned out to be very juicy oranges, as well as increasing the olive oil slightly for the moisture, and upping the bicarbonate of soda a little, to react with the acidic juice and give it a little more rise. It was still a slightly squat cake, but wonderfully moist. Next time I’ll try it with two eggs instead and hopefully end up with a more square cross-section.
2 blood oranges
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons yoghurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Scant 1 cup gf flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan with a little olive oil.
2. Supreme one of the oranges. Chop off the top and bottom, so it can sit flat on a chopping board. Using a knife slice off the peel in thick strips until the orange is naked. Then making v-cuts, remove each segment of orange from its membrane. Put the segments in a bowl and if they’re still whole, break them down with your fingers into little chunks. Set the chunks, and juice that will result from all this fiddling, aside.
3. In a large bowl measure out the sugar. Zest one of the oranges onto the sugar, then rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips, until well distributed. Then halve the orange, and juice one half of it into a small jug or measuring cup, over the same bowl. It should produce somewhere around 1/4 cup of juice. Top this up with a few big tablespoons of yoghurt, until you have 1/3 cup of liquid in total. Tip this into the sugar mixture, and stir well.
4. Add the 1/3 cup plus tablespoon extra of olive oil and the egg into the sugar mixture too, and whisk well.
5. In a small bowl, measure out the gluten-free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Whisk so they are well mixed, then carefully fold into the wet ingredients. finally add in the orange segments and their juice and stir just until combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
7. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then tip onto a rack to completely cool.
Serve with sour cream (I think the cake is a little sweet for whipped cream to work) or just on its own.