You didn't know that people can be organized into five different groups when it comes to cake? You bet they can!
1. Just a Bite for Me.
You've worked so hard on that cake. It's gorgeous. Seven layers! But all they want is a bite. Really? They don't know that you cannot cut a bite-sized slice? These people need cupcakes. Preferably mini-cupcakes. When they devour four or five of the little guys, don't mention that it's the equivalent of a slice of cake.
2. Eats with Their Eyes.
These people are often bakers. They love cake. But what they love most is decorating the cake. They don't care if it's a box cake. They don't care what flavor it is or if it's particularly tasty. They don't even care if you labored over a special filling. But it better look good enough to be in a Food Network contest.
3. Frosting, Frosting, Frosting.
As my friend, who readily admits that she falls into this group, says, "The cake is only there to hold the frosting." The less cake the better. It's all about the frosting.
4. Sugar, Sugar Sugar.
This is the kids group. These are the people who expect a walloping sugar high with every bite. They'll try anything, but woe to the baker if it's not so sweet that instant cavities set in.
5. Too Chic To Eat (or to live, actually).
Do not confuse these people with the "just a bite for me" group. They aren't concerned about calories. They're too busy walking around with their noses in the air pretending that everything is beneath them. Especially if it's ordinary or store-bought (said with disdain) cake. Marie Antoinette probably fell into this group.
This cake is for them. Hah! This is the cake you serve to your snooty mother-in-law. It's the cake you bake for visiting friends who are too picky to stay overnight in your "sweet little home." This one is for the uncle who refuses dessert but is known to hit his stash of brandy-filled chocolates after dinner. Hehehe. Yup, this cake is for them. It doesn't look like much because there's no frosting. Yes, that makes it hard to sell to the frosting people and kids. But this cake is elegant. The flavor is divine, the crumb is perfect. It is cake in beautifully understated simplicity.
I came upon the recipe because it's #CleanSweepWeek here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. After a week of house guests, my fridge was packed with tiny portions of leftovers. And two other things - cheese and orange juice. The cheese was in demand, but the big bottle of orange juice weighed on me because I went through the same thing last year. Apparently, my friends do not consume as many Mimosas as I think.
Last year I read that orange juice can be frozen. Indeed it can. Works great. But freeze it in small portions or you will be left with a lot of thawed juice for that one recipe that requires a cup of orange juice. And plan ahead. It thaws quite slowly.
But this year, I stumbled upon Orange-Soaked Bundt Cake at Fine Living. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup thawed frozen orange juice. But I had all that orange juice waiting to be used. So I made a reduction. I took 3 cups of orange juice, brought it to a simmer and let it cook uncovered until it reduced by about half. That's all. I didn't add anything to it. Just plain orange juice. I had a couple of tablespoons of reduction left over and ultimately just stirred them into the syrup.
I followed the recipe, which incidentally, I found to be interesting because it doesn't follow the standard method of creaming the butter and sugar, etc. One other change I made was to coat the Bundt pan with butter and sugar. It does add another layer of sweetness to the cake. Those who prefer less sweet cakes may want to use flour for dusting the pan.
I also substituted Grand Marnier for rum. The comments on the recipe indicate that people have tried different alcohol flavors and all have been successful. I suspect that peach schnapps would work well, too.
The instructions say to bake for 45-50 minutes. After 45 minutes, mine was nowhere near ready. My cake tester came out loaded. Do not be fooled here. In exactly five minutes, it was perfect. I couldn't believe it happened that fast but it did. So don't set the timer for 15 more minutes and walk away.
The instructions for the glaze seemed long at a glance. Hah! It couldn't have been easier. If you can stir or whisk, you can make the glaze. So don't be deterred by that. This is basic poke holes and pour!
The result was fantastic. This is a true orange cake. The reduction added a distinct but gentle orange flavor to both the cake itself and the glaze. Additionally, the recipe says it can stand three days at room temperature if tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and the flavor only improves. I found that to be true, which makes this cake a great traveler. I wouldn't leave it in the car in the baking sun, but if you need to take it with you when you hit the road, it should travel well.
I have separated the steps here for ease of following. Don't be fooled into thinking it's complicated. It's just a little bit different, and it's easy to overlook something in paragraph form.
Issue 30; adapted from a favorite family recipe of
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar plus 2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
3/4 cup canola or other mild-flavored oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup orange juice reduction
5 large eggs
Syrup & Glaze
1/2 cup orange juice reduction
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 cup confectioners sugar, divided
Pour the orange juice into a pot and heat until it begins to boil. Lower temperature to a simmer, and simmer uncovered until reduced by about half.
Preheat oven to 350. Butter the Bundt cake pan well. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons sugar on the butter (as you would flour) and shake to spread it around. Best done over the sink for easy clean-up.
Place the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Combine the flour, 2 cups sugar, baking powder and baking soda in the large mixing bowl of the mixer and give a quick spin to combine.
Add the softened butter and mix until large crumbs form.
Change to the whisk attachment.
On medium speed, whisk in the oil, vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup orange juice reduction.
Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one.
On high, whisk the batter for about three minutes, until light.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, you can make the glaze and syrup. Whisk together 1/2 cup orange juice reduction, melted butter, Grand Marnier, and 1/2 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Whisk to combine.
When the cake is done, allow to rest on a rack for five minutes. Then use a thin skewer to poke holes to the bottom. A lot of holes - 100 or more. Pour about 1/3 of the syrup over the holes very slowly to let it sink in. Let the cake rest at least one hour before removing from the pan. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar into the remaining syrup. Place the cake on a rack over a baking sheet with a lip and pour over the cake. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. (Note: I poured the glaze but so much ran off that I cut slices and then poured a bit of the glaze on them. The glaze kept fine covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.
|Dust the Bundt pan with sugar.|
|Whisk until light.|
|Pour into prepared Bundt pan.|
|Bake 45-50 minutes, then poke holes into it!|
|Pour syrup over it and let it sink in.|
|Oops. We couldn't help taking a slice or two.|
|Writer's snack. YUM!|