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.
I like the fact that you experimented with two types of oranges, and it seems got quite different results. The blood orange topping certainly looks striking.
I can’t wait to try this! It looks absolutely delicious. I wasn’t sure if I was going to try the poached orange top but now I’m sold 🙂
The comparisons are informative and helpful. Didn’t expect such a big difference between the cake batters. Your poached blood orange cake looks exceptional.
I did not know that orange cakes could turn out green. How interesting. The blood orange toping is a great save. It looks so awsome.
Such an interesting experiment! I’ll save my blood oranges for topping the cake !
Sorry to see it turned green, but how interesting! You learn something new every day, and it seemed to end rather well after that.
When I gave a slice to Hubby he said it tasted like cornbread. I was so disappointed but
when I saw your comment about cornbread I felt better. I did think this was really moist
and loved the flavors. Great experiment with the two cakes, interesting what we can learn.
Those blood oranges really did the trick and look gorgeous.
It is so cool that you made both kind of cakes and they both look good (what’s a little bit of green if the cake is delicious, and happily consumed) the science behind it is very interesting too.
Wow- I had actually used a naval orange when making the batter, but had not given it too much thought. I was too busy taking photos of the blood oranges and knew that I was going to scatter them on top, but I had no idea what would happen if you use them for the batter. That grey green is something else. So glad you shared this !! The cake itself was quite different from our standard and funny that my Dad also had said he thought it tasted like cornbread. The texture was like that for sure too. I actually did a “hybrid” of that poached top and just did the regular syrup, then microwaved it like I was going to poach it. I thought it would all end up the same but I am not sure about the texture. The neat thing, though I am not sure I could duplicate it, is that my syrup then hardened up a bit after being drizzled on the cake and it added almost a thin crunchy layer. My husband noticed it too and said it was nice. Fun the things we end up learning.
I love your comparison! I used a Cara Cara orange for juicing and zest and saved the blood oranges for decorating the top. I’m so glad I did. Food science is fun.
yum–two versions! i’d love to try this with blood oranges.
The cake looks very striking with blood orange slice. I’m fascinated by the science of baking so I really appreciated your experimentation. I’ve always avoided using blood orange juice in a cake because I thought the batter would be pink. Little did I know…
Wow you made two cakes and I couldn’t get one right. Good to know about the blood oranges and PH thing. Next time I will make the poached oranges.
Love the presentation with the blood oranges — really makes it pop! And I think it’s so awesome that you experimented with two different versions; go, you! And…green? Science — so crazy! 🙂 Thanks for posting about the Ph, as I totally would have wondered but never delved into it myself.
Oh my I would have died when I brought the cake out of the oven and saw that it had turned green…so funny! I enjoyed your side by side versions of the cake…and my husband thought it reminded him of cornbread too!