Stepping out of the elevator I could already smell the enticing fragrance of freshly baked cake. It always made me smile. The few seconds it took to walk down the corridor to our apartment door, I would try to guess what aromas were lingering in the air. After I rang the doorbell, I would close my eyes and take a deep breath, savoring the scent.
My mother would open the door with a huge smile on her face and her eyes twinkling. She knew what I was doing and what I wanted.
"Wait!" she would say holding me back for a few minutes longer. It was torture, but she was always in a playful mood when she baked. "Guess!" I would close my eyes again, trying to penetrate the fragrance in the air. It was a game we would often play, who would have known back then that these games would play an important role in my foodie life later.
My mother did not get to bake that often. Unfortunately - because she was a great baker. Her cakes were always put together to highlight a certain ingredient, flavor or fragrance. She was not a fan of over-killing a baked good by the excessive use of ingredients. Instead she would use each ingredient carefully and make sure they complemented the main flavor of the cake.
As my father worked in luxury hotels, we were never short of extravagant and pompous cakes and pastries at home. An Austrian Sacher torte, French eclairs or an Italian Millefoglie - we would have it all. You're probably thinking "WOW!"
Yes, it was nice and we indulged in these scrumptious pastries often. But what we loved the most were my mothers homemade simple baked cakes. That was our real treat. We would really savor each bite and enjoy her guessing games in the process.
Carrot cake, orange cake, ginger cake, banana torte, lemon-coconut cake - these were all her specialities, and as you can see, it was the ingredients in the name of her cakes that played the key role.
I loved the orange cake the best. It was a simple blend of flavors, using the zesty orange peels and orange juice to give a pure accent to the cake. When she made it the entire floor, we lived on, was filled with a sweet, tangy, citrussy aroma.
Oranges are one of the most popular fruits in the world. It's no surprise either! They are juicy, sweet and well-known for their concentration of vitamin C. Oranges make the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes. What's more you can use almost every part of the orange in your cooking.
Oranges come in two general categories: sweet and bitter. The former being the type most commonly consumed. Popular varieties of the sweet orange include Valencia, Navel and Jaffa oranges, as well as the blood orange. The blood orange is a hybrid species that is smaller in size, more aromatic in flavor and has red hues running throughout its flesh. Bitter oranges are often used to make jam or marmalade and their zest serves as the flavoring for liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Cointreau.
Oranges are ranked No. 1 on nutrition among five popular fruits (apples, bananas, grapes and pears) and are among the healthiest items in the produce section that provide valuable health benefits. They are one of Mother Nature's best super foods, packed with an unbelievable array of disease-fighting nutrients, all tucked neatly beneath the peel.
Oranges supply 80 fat-free calories packed with energizing carbohydrates that fuel energy levels. We all know that oranges are a powerhouse when it comes to Vitamin C. One orange supplies a healthy dose of Vitamin C, which plays an important role in cancer prevention, healthy blood circulation and wound healing. They are also a good source of the crucial B-vitamin folate, which is essential in preventing birth defects and fighting heart disease. Oranges also contain an array of phytochemicals, which help fight age-related diseases.
Oranges provide antioxidants, which help protect the skin from free-radical damage known to cause signs of aging. Oranges are loaded with disease "phyt-ing" phytochemicals. These substances, such as flavonoids, which are found in oranges, act as antioxidants and may protect against heart disease. According to a Finnish study, women with the greatest intake of flavonoids had half the risk of dying from heart disease compared to women in the study with the lowest intake.
Selecting & Storing
It is not necessary for oranges to have a bright orange color to be good. As a matter of fact, the color of non-organic oranges may be due to injection of Citrus Red Number 2 into their skins.
Organic or not, oranges that are partially green or have brown spots may be just as ripe and tasty as those that are solid orange in color. Oranges with soft spots or traces of mold should be avoided. As oranges are among the top 20 foods in which pesticide residues are most frequently found, buy organic oranges whenever possible.
When choosing oranges go for fruit that have smoothly textured skin and are firm and heavy for their size. These will have a higher juice content than those that are either spongy or lighter in weight. In general, oranges that are smaller will be juicier than those that are larger in size, as will those that have thinner skins.
Oranges can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will generally last the same amount of time, two weeks with either method, and will retain nearly the same level of their vitamin content. The best way to store oranges is loose rather than wrapped in a plastic bag as they can easily develop mold when exposed to moisture.
Orange juice and zest can also be stored for later use. Place freshly squeezed orange juice in ice cube trays until frozen, and then store them in plastic bags in the freezer. Dried orange zest should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight glass container.
Now that I have a child of my own, I find myself making the same cakes my mother would make for me for the exact same reasons. I want to tickle Soeren's tastebuds and have his senses concentrate on individual flavors and aromas. We too play guessing games, which I hope will help him in his grown up life too. Maybe I am one of the few mothers who feels proud when my son says "I want to be a good cook when I grow up!"
Come on over with your casseroles, crockpots or baked dishes. I am looking for innovative and creative one-dish meals. Looking forward to having you all over.
Deadline: March 10th, 2008
Share your fresh produce with us. Show us your weekly bounty from the Farmer's Market, grocery stores or CSA box.
Deadline: March 31st, 2008
Printable version of recipe here.
250g all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
40g vanilla pudding powder
80g oft butter - cut in pieces
2 teaspoons orange zest - preferably organic orange
250ml orange juice
For the Orange Buttercream
90g confectioner's sugar - sifted
125g soft butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoons orange zest - preferably organic orange
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees C. Prepare a round cake form (23 cm diameter) by buttering the base and the sides. Line with baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder and the pudding powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, sugar, butter, orange zest and juice to the dry ingredients and with a hand mixer whisk into a smooth thick mixture.
Pour the cake mixture into the cake form, even out with a rubber spatula and bake approx. 50 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick or knife is inserted in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.
Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the form. This might be a difficult task and you will be dying to taste, but if you unmold it too soon the cake will break. Run a knife along the sides of the cake and tip out onto a cooling rack. Peel off the baking paper. Allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.
For the Orange Buttercream
In a small bowl mix all the ingredients together until thick and creamy. Spread the buttercream evenly over the top and sides of the cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Tip: You can substitute the butter with 125g of cream cheese. This adds a wonderful delicate touch to the frosting.
This is Soeren's favorite cake too! So much so he wanted it for his 5th birthday last year (August). It surprised many mothers that there was NOT a chocolate cake in sight. Don't kids always want a chocolate cake for their birthdays? Not Soeren he prefers the wonderful, zesty flavors of a simple orange cake. It is a pleasure to bite into the cake. Delicate and moist where the orange is highlighted in style.
I am rather chuffed that I have been nominated for the Inspiring Food Photography this month by Margot of Coffee & Vanilla. If you have a minute you can head on over to Margot's blog and vote for me. Voting lasts all this month. I'd love to have that scrumptious looking badge to display on my blog LOL!
Other aromatic cakes you might enjoy:
|Persimmon Spice Cake|
|Sour Cream Cherry Cake|
|White Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies|
This month the lovely Marta of An Italian in the US has chosen the orange as her Fresh Produce of the Month. It's a great event featuring a seasonal fruit or vegetable and I always enjoy taking part. This is my entry for her great event. Gracie Marta!
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First