A couple of weeks ago I began hearing whispers about a certain cake that was so very moist and flavorful, and once you’ve heard from more than three people on three completely separate occasions that there is something you MUST try, well then, you must try it.
David Leite is one of my favorite essayists on food. He has a new book out, “The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast,” which is receiving a lot of very good press. I also think he’s a natural on TV. I am not as familiar with his recipes, nor am I with Portuguese cuisine, but after trying this cake, I’m sold on both and am looking forward to trying more.
This is the perfect tea cake. Or dinner cake. Or breakfast cake. Or alone-in-the-closet-with-a-fork-cake. It is wonderfully moist, sweet but not too sweet, with a mouth-watering aroma of orange from both the juice and zest. David says on his site that it took 13 variations to get it right. Oh, did he get it right!
Pay attention to a few important notes: The first is to use a light-colored bundt pan. Mine is not exactly dark, but not light colored, and the outside of the cake was definitely a darker brown than I would have liked if I were to present it whole. This did not ruin the flavor, and could have been masked by a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, but just a word of caution. Second, the batter will have a much MUCH thinner consistency than one is used to for cake. Third, David says to let the cake rest a day or two. We had some the day after it was made, and then the day after that. I can report that the cake on day 2 was even more delicious than day 1. I urge you to visit David’s website to watch a video of how it is made (you can get a sense how thin the consistency of the batter is), and get the recipe from the source.
Make sure to use a light-colored Bundt pan. A dark one will turn out a cake that sticks and is unpleasantly brown. Since this cake only gets better with age, don’t even think about taking a bite until the day after you make it, or even the day after that.
- Nonstick baking spray with flour
- 4 to 5 large naval oranges
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with baking spray and set aside.
2. Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1 1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.
6. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
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