One of the recipes for the Tuesdays with Dorie group assigned for March is Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake. I decided to make that cake and also go one step further and try Dorie’s Bonne Idée and make a Poached Orange-Topped Cake. Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake tastes very un-American to me, because it’s not a very sweet and fluffy cake; it tastes natural and has a nice moist texture to it, similar to cornbread. The Poached Orange-Topped Cake has a lot more flavors than Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake; it’s worth take the extra step to poach the oranges for the topping.One reasons why I decided to make two types of cakes are two-fold: 1) the recipe sounded simple enough and used simple ingredients, and 2) I just so happened to see blood oranges in the supermarket (and Dorie wrote that blood oranges are great in this cake).
The first cake I made was Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake with navel oranges. The second cake I made was the Poached Orange-Topped Cake with blood oranges.
I basically made the same cake twice, the only difference being the types of oranges used. One of the first steps of this cake was combining granulated sugar with orange zest. The navel orange/sugar mixture definitely had a sweeter and brighter aroma, almost summer-like. The blood orange/sugar mixture had a more grown-up citrus scent.
After combining the sugar mixtures with butter, the juice from the oranges, eggs, and then adding in the dry ingredients, the cake batter was done. Both batters looked similar in the end, except for the color, of course. Dorie said that the batter would look curdled, and both of mine could not have looked any more curdled! I had major doubts when I got to this point making my first cake. I should have known better than to doubt Dorie!
Each cake baked up nicely. The first cake I made, Odile’s Cake, had a great light orange color, and a nice fresh orange scent. The oranginess was multiplied after I spooned some orange syrup onto it while it was still warm.
Eating Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake was like eating orange-flavored cornbread. It sounds weird, but it works.
My second cake, the blood orange cake, turned out…interestingly. The bottom of the cake looked fine. The cake inverted without any issues.
The top of the cake, however, turned green! It was an unappetizing grayish green! I was asking myself, what kind of orange cake turns green?! I did some research and found out that it turned green because of sciency stuff. The pH of the cake was basic (there wasn’t enough acid to balance out the alkaline baking powder). Apparently blood oranges are less acidic than navel oranges, and that’s why my other cake didn’t turn green.
The solution to my Frankenstein cake was in the making: cover up that green monstrosity with poached blood oranges and its delicious syrup!
Tada! You’d never guess that this Poached Orange-Topped Cake was green….until you cut into it. Yep, the insides turned green, too, but luckily the cake was consumed in a dimly lit room! Other than the misfortunate color, this cake tasted really good! The poached oranges on top really made a huge difference! I guess you can’t judge a cake by its color.
Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake recipe is on page 28 and Poached Orange-Topped Cake recipe is on page 30 of Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.