Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe Remix: Whole-Orange Bundt with Chocolate Ganache

Knowing my fondness for the nigh-unbeatable combination of chocolate and orange, for my birthday, Lauren made me this cake from Always Order Dessert. The hook with this recipe is that it uses two pureed oranges, peel, pith and all. The resulting cake had great flavor, but it was D-E-N-S-E ... almost like a pound cake, but with an even tighter structure and less "give" when your fork tries to go through it. This needed to be addressed.

So, I convened a blue-ribbon panel of leading food scientists, and an additional advisory commission consisting of various luminaries of the liberal arts, information technology, maritime law, and ladies haberdashery. After two weeks, they had failed to so much as decide on sparkling or still water for the boardroom table. Disappointed, but with newfound resolve, I set off to muck about with the recipe myself.

The adjustments: Less butter. Replacing a bit of the flour with cornstarch (thanks, King Arthur). Baking soda rather than baking powder. Mixing the batter with the cake method.

The result was a cake that was indeed much lighter, but maybe a bit TOO light. It wasn't threatening to float away anytime soon, but it was missing some of the appealing denseness of the original. Also, to me at least, it had an unfortunate baking soda-y aftertaste, maybe because I swapped the soda for powder at a 1:1 ratio. So presented below is a compromise that should produce a cake that is neither doorstoppish or antacidy.

2 whole oranges (seedless please; this time I used one navel and one blood orange)
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350° and spray/flour/Baker's Joy a Bundt pan.

With a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed. While that's going, cut oranges into manageable chunks (remember, don't peel them!) and puree in a food processor or blender. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.

After the butter and sugar are creamed nicely, add the eggs and vanilla. Switch mixer to low speed, then add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the orange puree, the second third of the flour, the other half of the puree, and finally the rest of the flour, pausing between each addition to allow everything to incorporate. Turn off the mixer and give the batter a final few folds with your spatula, then put the batter in the pan and pop in the oven. Depending on your oven, check for doneness around 45 minutes, though it may take up to an hour to bake. Cool in pan for 15 minutes or so, then invert onto a wire rack.

14 oz chopped chocolate, the darker the better
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp orange extract (optional)

Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, then pour over cake to glaze.

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