I know I’m very late to the party in buying David Leite’s wonderful book The New Portuguese Table but better late than never eh? Since treating myself last month I’ve been working my way through some Portuguese delights such as a lighter version of mayonnaise flavoured with ginger and corriander and an unusual but delicious milk liqueur. We’ve been through quite a number of eggs, a lot of chorizo and dozens of oranges and enjoyed every recipe. Unfortunately for the UK cook, the recipes all use cups – not a problem if you have a set but it does create more washing up. I’ve been converting to grams as I go so the following recipe is scale-friendly.
When my fellow foodie Alex came to visit recently (armed with Port and Sherry − how very Iberian!) we decided to bake a cake together which gave me the perfect opportunity to try this orange cake that uses olive oil in place of butter. The recipe recommends leaving the cake a day before eating to let the flavours develop; it was hard to resist and we did end up nibbling on the crumbs at breakfast the next day, but the result was an incredibly moist pound cake with a distinct orange flavour. Well worth the wait! I love the contrast between the deep golden exterior and pale yellow crumb and since it’s such a simple but tasty cake I think it’s best unadorned. If you fancy gussying it up a little you could go with a dusting of icing sugar or an orange drizzle, perhaps even a little chocolate glaze but chances are, after waiting a day to tuck in, you won’t want to waste any more time!
The reason for waiting to make this cake is that the recipe is big. It’s designed to go in a 25cm bundt pan – the equivalent to 2 x 900g (2lb) loaf tins! Al and I split it; half for her to take away and half for me, the husband and my co-workers. It easily serves 16 if not more. If you don’t have a bundt pan you can split the recipe into two loaf tins but do keep an eye out while it bakes as I suspect the cooking time will be much reduced. Despite sticking to the original size and shape we did reduce the amount of sugar. In my book a pound cake has roughly equal proportions of flour, fat, sugar and eggs but weight-wise (rather than volume in cups) the original had a lot more sugar than anything else. The recipe below is what we made and it was plenty sweet enough although I expect the full quantity of sugar may make keep this cake a touch moister.
Portuguese orange cake
From Leites Culinaria
- 4 or 5 large oranges
- 475g plain flour
- 1½tsp baking powder
- 1¾tsp sea salt (flaky)
- 5 large eggs
- 450g sugar
- 375ml mild olive oil
Preheat oven to 175°.
Butter and flour a 25cm bundt tin.
Zest 3 of the oranges with a fine grater and set aside. Juice 4 of the oranges, you need 375ml of juice. If you don’t have enough, juice the 5th orange.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir in the salt.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. beating slowly, add a third of the flour followed by half the oil. Repeat with another third of the flour and the rest of the olive oil before adding the last of the flour.
Pour in the juice and beat until just incorporated then pour the batter into the tin.
Bake for 75 minutes covering with foil is the top gets too dark.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out on to a rack and leave to cool completely. Cover or place in a cake dome and allow to rest for a day before serving.