breakfast, desserts

renato’s mom’s olive oil orange bundt.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw the first Baked cookbook in the bookstore years ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember why, specifically. But it struck me somehow. I didn’t take it home with me that day, but I thought about it after I had left. And thought about it some more. And fell in love with it from a distance because I had seen what was inside and it felt like something about it was just, well…different from all the other baking-centric cookbooks I’d seen. 

I eventually purchased it. I deeply regret the time it took me to do so. Because it is different. There are many, many baking cookbooks out there, each one wonderful in its own way. But after a certain point you realize that, as helpful as they are, many of them are very much alike. There’s always the basics (and thank heavens for them, because they taught me how to not burn, over-whip, and generally ruin things) and the standards, and maybe a master recipe here and there, and yet: sameness. Now, i’m not looking to spin sugar into clouds and drape it just so over a pile of meticulously-fashioned cream puffs. I just want more of a selection. Different flavors. Something else.

Enter the Baked SuperDuo (and I use that term for both the authors, Renato Poliofito and Matt Lewis, and for the cookbooks themselves). I have a legitimate food crush on them. I go through phases where everything I bake is from one of their books. Excuses are made, like parties in need of desserts or requests from relatives. Sometimes cakes and other baked goods (no pun intended) show up on my countertop for absolutely no reason. And get eaten entirely, again for absolutely no reason.

I’m back on a Baked kick, and this is the first offering: please file under “cakes made for no reason but I’m sure I’ll find a home for it somewhere.” It’s from their second book, Baked Explorations. The problem with this one is I don’t want it to go anywhere. It’s a cake you can eat very easily from breakfast through dessert. It’s got an absolutely gorgeous fresh orange flavor that’s honestly hard to come by in most cakes I’ve made, and I can only attribute it to the heavenly combination of oranges and a fruity olive oil.

There’s truly nothing to this but pure, unadulterated flavor, so please, please…don’t make Renato’s mom sad. Use best quality ingredients. Search for very good oranges and use a very good, citrusy olive oil. I can only imagine the final taste and texture of this cake is determined in large part by what exactly you are using. I did alter the recipe only in one regard: I used sour cream in place of the original’s plain yogurt. This was because I mistakenly thought I had full-fat plain yogurt in the refrigerator when what I actually had was the full-fat sour cream. It was a last-minute substitution, but one I’ve carried out before with excellent results.

One more thing: do not be afraid to make this cake ahead of time. The flavor deepens after a day or two. If you choose to make it ahead, I suggest glazing it (with time to set) just before serving.

Adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Originally titled “Mom’s Olive Oil Orange Bundt” but I didn’t want to confuse both Renato’s mom and my mother with the title. Thank you, Renato’s mom. I will make this cake forever.

Renato’s Mom’s Olive Oil Orange Bundt

for the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream (obviously, the original plain yogurt is fine to use if you have that instead, just don’t use nonfat)
  • 3/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

for the glaze:

  • 2-3 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar, depending on how thick you want your glaze
  • juice of 2 oranges (with any luck, the 2 oranges you just zested)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand 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 sour cream and olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the orange zest and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. I’ve noticed in the few times I’ve made this cake that the orange zest tends to cling to the paddle, so you may want to add the zest and vanilla, mix as I said, go back in and scrape down the paddle to remove any clingy zest, and beat again for a few seconds.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, beating after each addition until just combined (about 10 seconds). Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 5 seconds.

In another large bowl (I always use a hand mixer for this, but beat them with a whisk if you feel like it; I’m sure that’s the proper way to do it), 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 (gently!) fold until they are almost completely combined. At this point I’ll add that the note in the Baked cookbook on how you should not rush this folding? HEED it. This is a heavy, sticky dough, and you need to take your time to get the whites in there correctly without them de-poofing.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating after half the baking time has elapsed. I’m not one for an overdone or dry cake, so I started checking mine at the 35-minute mark, just in case. Bake until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, if you can manage that, because it smells ridiculously good. I won’t lie and say mine was completely cool when i unearthed it, but it came out without a hitch.

the glaze.

In the original recipe, they note that 1/4 cup of sifted powdered sugar is completely sufficient for dusting/decorating. and they are 100% correct. However, I glazed it using a citrus glaze I’ve used numerous times for other cakes. It’s a great all-purpose citrus glaze: you can rotate in and out lime, lemon or orange zest depending on your cake. Obviously, for this cake, you’ll want the orange flavor.

When it’s time to make the glaze, juice your oranges into a large bowl and add the cream. Add 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and whisk until all the sugar is dissolved and the glaze is smooth. Now: check your glaze. Your thickness will depend largely on the size and juiciness of the oranges used. If it’s too thin, add in 1/4 cup of the sugar, whisk again, and test. keep going until you feel like you have a good, pourable-but-not-too-liquid glaze. I like to think of cinnamon roll glaze as a good example of your end result. Pour over the top of the cake and let it drip down. Tie both hands behind your back (or have someone do this for you) so you can manage to leave the cake untouched until the glaze has set.

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