I’m going to be completely honest. I’ve lost a bit of my cooking mojo. That’s not to say that I am leaving my poor family to starve but I definitely have been doing some soul searching and wondering what direction I should be taking in terms of this blog. Up until this weekend I had a couple of ideas but nothing really outstanding.
On the weekend we brought the family to the Crossroads Farmer’s Market to have a light lunch after church. I wandered the aisles of Chongo’s food market eyeing all the fall fruits still available. They had some lovely British Columbia apples and pears. And that is about where the ‘locally’ grown produce ended. Chongo’s is a year round fruits and veg market which means that during the long cold winter months they import fresh produce from warmer countries where it is in season. It is odd, but sometimes going to a market and selecting beets, kale, potatoes, and carrots for months on end gets severely depressing. At Chongo’s I found some really amazing Blood Oranges. Plump, juicy, and full of vitamin C (sunshine!) these blood oranges were coming home with me! I bought a huge bag full knowing that if I didn’t I wouldn’t get a chance to bake with them before the family gobbled them all up.
Sometimes when I’m searching for a recipe online for a specific ingredient I just type that ingredient and search for images. If one particular image grabs me I’ll see if there is an associated recipe. In this case the Spectacular Upside Down Blood Orange Cake from Not Quite Nigella really grabbed my attention. It is a beautiful way to showcase this unique citrus fruit. After I read that recipe, I saw another recipe for a Middle Eastern Blood Orange Cake. I had heard about cakes made from boiled citrus and decided to give this one a try also. After all I did have a huge bag of blood oranges to use up. So many thanks to Not Quite Nigella for her two great blood orange posts. I can’t wait to try the cakes!
The Upside Down Blood Orange Cake began with thinly sliced blood oranges being cooked in a simple syrup until the pith was slightly translucent. I then cooled them off a bit and layered them inside a parchment paper lined spring form pan. I made the cake batter and spread it carefully in the orange lined pan so as not to disturb the placement of the oranges. After an hour in the oven and a bit of cooling, the cake was ready.
The Middle Eastern Blood Orange Cake was a bit more involved because I had to boil 3 oranges for two hours then process them with the rest of the cake ingredients. Look away if you are a bit squeamish..the batter looks like it’s an instagram photo from Martha Stewart.
I wasn’t sure what exactly made this cake Middle Eastern…but Lorraine (NQN) attributes the recipe to Claudia Roden, author of ‘A New Book of Middle Eastern Food’. I was a bit astounded by the simplicity of it all and couldn’t help but add a teaspoon of freshly crushed cardamom and a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter and see what transpired.
As it turned out a nearby friend of mine was celebrating her birthday so I decided to have her and her hubby over for a ‘taste off’. I whipped up some cream to serve with the Middle Eastern Cake and warmed up the leftover syrup from the Upside Down Cake. Everyone seemed to prefer the Upside Down cake over the Middle Eastern Cake because it was a touch sweeter. I found that it didn’t have as nice a texture as the Middle Eastern cake and I really liked the added flavours of the cardamom and cinnamon. Unfortunately the ‘whole orange’ concept made it a touch bitter. I was thinking that maybe next time just peeling the skin and segmenting the oranges then boiling them would make a better cake. On the upside this cake is really good for you. Lots of eggs, almond meal, oranges, and very little sugar didn’t make me feel guilty about having cake for breakfast the next day.
Give them a try and let me know which one you prefer: