By Caroline J. Beck (Zester Daily)
Using extra virgin olive oil in cake baking is not new. I’ve been doing it for years along with other health-minded folks. It imparts a rich, slightly herbal flavor to cookies, cakes and muffins that balances the inherent sweetness of my favorite recipes. And who’s kidding whom? It also makes me feel slightly more righteous and slightly less guilty. But when I opened the refrigerator and found the last of my favorite winter citrus and a container of crème fraîche ready for attention, it seemed only logical that these things belonged in a chocolate cake as well.
There is another ingredient in this cake that is far less known but deserves to be in everyone’s pantry. It’s an extract originating from Italy called Fiori di Sicilia (translated to “flowers of Sicily”). When I want to add a bit of mystery to my baking, I grab this little vial and add a few precious drops to the batter. It is a powerful combination of vanilla, citrus and less-defined floral scents. If you’ve ever tasted a traditional panettone from Italy during the Christmas holidays, you will recognize the flavor in an instant. While vanilla extract is always useful to round out a mix of flavors, this heavenly tincture can do all that and more.
Blood Orange Chocolate Cake
You can use any type of orange to impart the tangy flavor that complements a good dark chocolate, but the flavor complexity of a blood orange, with its raspberry undertones, makes this cake particularly yummy.
1¾ cups pastry or cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons orange zest
½ cup dark cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup crème fraîche
3 large eggs
½ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Fiori de Sicilia extract (or vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Triple Sec liquor (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9-by-5-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest, and set aside.
2. Sift the cocoa powder into a separate bowl and add boiling water until it is the consistency of a thick, smooth and glossy paste. Let cool while preparing wet ingredients.
3. By machine or by hand, whisk together sugar, olive oil, crème fraiche and eggs until blended and smooth. Slowly incorporate orange juice, extract, liquor and cocoa. Finally, add dry ingredients until evenly mixed.
4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out with no wet batter clinging to it.
5. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze created by mixing ¼ cup blood orange juice with powdered sugar until desired consistency. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
Copyright 2016 Caroline J. Beck via Zester Daily and Reuters Media Express