Orange Cake, Easy and Zesty

I love oranges. I really do! Like ?ponkan? (a type of tangerine almost the size and color of an orange), apple and banana, orange is among the regular fruits I eat to curtail off food cravings during late nights when I have to stay awake either writing, blogging, watching movies or browsing the internet. I can consume lots of it just before going to bed and not have the feeling of guilt or being bloated. For this reason, I maintain a good stock of orange (or ?ponkan? if available) inside the fridge which I regularly replenish every Saturday.

This practice of keeping a steady stock of orange in our home became very handy one day when I needed and wanted to bake a cake. While I would usually prepare either banana cake or carrot cake during such a time, the absence of banana and carrots from our pantry that day forced me (in a good way) to look at and consider the other ingredients at hand which happen to be orange and apple. I settled for orange and it proved to be a wise decision. The orange cake, unlike chocolate cake, was quite easy to prepare and was also zesty and tasty.

Basically, orange cake is just a common pound cake added with some orange juice and flavored with its zest. Although it can be served without any frosting or just sprinkled with icing sugar, I prefer it with some light frosting simply made by dissolving confectioner?s sugar in some orange juice. It adds zing to the taste and at the same time retains the cake moist for several days. Amazingly, orange can really be used to make a truly exciting cake.

Sweet orange which refers to the citrus variety called ?Citrus sinensis? is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world. While it is reported to have probably originated in Southeast Asia (this makes me wonder how come it is not commercially grown in the Philippines?) and first cultivated in China (2500 BC). Brazil, USA (Florida), India and Mexico are now the top growers of the tree for its delicious fruit, either to be eaten as a whole or to be processed as juice.

The orange tree, an evergreen flowering tree growing to about 8-10 meters in height and which are widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, is said to be a hybrid of ancient cultivated origin, possibly between ?pomelo? and mandarin. Like all citrus which are hesperidia, its fruit has a sectional pulp inside a separable rind. It has an ovate shape leaves arranged alternately and growing to about 4-10 cm long. It has a thick and fragrant peel where zest is taken to use as flavoring ingredient.

To prepare the cake, we need the following major ingredients: wheat flour (plain or AP flour is okay), unsalted butter (salted is fine too), fresh farm eggs, white sugar, some oranges (any sweet variety will do), baking powder and icing sugar. In addition we need some vegetable oil and baking soda.

The first step which I usually forget until I am about to bake, is to pre-heat the oven to 350 ?F or 180 ?C. :)

In a large mixing bowl, sift 2 cups wheat or all-purpose flour, followed by 1 1/3 cups white sugar, ½ tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp baking soda and mix to evenly combine all the ingredients. Add in 1 tsp orange zest (from 1 orange peel), 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 cup softened butter. Stir to mix everything together.

Add in 5 slightly beaten eggs and continue mixing. Finally, fold in 1/3 cup orange juice (from 1½ orange) and beat properly until a thick, homogenous and smooth batter is attained.

I usually taste the batter at this point as it will already indicate how your cake?s taste will come out.

Pour batter into 9-inch circular cake pan with parchment paper or lightly greased and floured. I can?t find mine so I used a larger rectangular pan.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes until fragrant and fork prong inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Take it out and let to cool, on a cake rack if you like.

In the meantime, prepare the frosting. Combine the juice of ½ orange and 1 cup confectioner?s sugar in a small bowl. Beat until very smooth.

Pour it on the cake and evenly spread on top. Since I used a rather big instead of just a 9-inch pan, I ran short of frosting. :-)

Cut and serve. Refreshingly yummy!

We usually serve cake as a dessert at the end of our meal or as a snack during tea time or whenever we?re waiting for the meal. :-) Enjoy! c?,)

I prepared this cake at the same day that some of the friends of Reel and Grill were celebrating their birthdays ?? Lalaine who is in London and Rose living in Tarlac City, Philippines. This is for them.

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