Today’s post is my way of bidding farewell to winter – or at least welcoming spring’s arrival. Heinen’s Grocery is helping us say sayonara to winter by celebrating citrus season with Zest Fest, now through the end of the month. I love that citrus season is at its peak in February. It’s like a little reminder that there is a lot of sunshine somewhere.
I’m sharing two of my favorite desserts to make with this season’s citrus. A few years ago I was inspired by a recipe in a friend’s cookbook. I admired not only how delicious it sounded but how beautiful it was. I was intimidated by the fact that she was a successful pastry chef and the author of the cookbook so I figured I wouldn’t stand a chance at making this complicated dish. Why do I always do this to myself? You never know unless you try and, worst case scenario, your kitchen smells good and you waste a few ingredients. So I gave it a try!
I couldn’t wait to share my success. It was actually quite easy to make and turned out to be beautiful and delicious. I altered the recipe a bit to use regular flour. The original recipe was gluten free. If you would like to check out her book and the original recipe you can find it here. I highly recommend it and, although we are not strictly gluten free in my house, I have made many of the recipes and one is more delicious than the next. Aran is as genuinely kind and beautiful as her work.
The recipe I ended up making calls for oranges so I’m leaving it that way because it is delicious with oranges. But, because I’m loving all things lemon these day, I made this batch with Meyer lemons.
Orange Upside-Down Almond Cake
- Four eggs
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 2/3 cup of butter, melted
- 1 cup almond meal
Sticky Orange Topping
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 vanilla Bean split and seed scraped
- 2 oranges very thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 320°F.
- To make the topping, place the sugar, water and the vanilla in a 10-cup, nonstick, oven-proof frying pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the oranges and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the oranges are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 8 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume.
- Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold through. Fold through the butter and almond meal. Pour the mixture over the oranges carefully.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a wooden skewer.
- Turn out by flipping onto an inverted platter to serve. Serves eight.
One bowl and a whisk is just about all you’ll need to make the next recipe. This soft, springy, and moist citrus cake will take away the winter blues. You can make it with lemons or oranges interchangeably. Today I made it with Meyer lemons and threw in a handful of raspberries for good measure.
The cake itself is perfectly lemony and the lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor. I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons of lemon extract gave it the full-bodied lemon flavor I want, but add to taste. Lemon oil and lemon juice are NOT substitutes for extract. As much as humanly possible always use PURE extracts.
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon extract, or to taste. (I use 2)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency.
- Optional two teaspoons of heavy cream. See note in Method.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
- Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and whisk to combine. (Note – I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons lemon extract necessary for full-bodied lemon flavor, but add to taste. Don’t use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they’re not; oil is much more potent and intense. Don’t use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it’s not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.)
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until just combined, don’t over mix. Some lumps will be present and that’s okay, don’t try to stir them smooth.
- Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
- Bake for about 50 to 52 minutes, or until top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter.
- In the last 10 minutes of baking, tent pan with foil (loosely drape a sheet of foil over pan) to prevent excessive browning on the top and sides of bread before center cooks through.
- Allow loaf to cool in pan on top of a wire rack for at least 30 minutes (I cooled 4 hours) before turning out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.
- To a small bowl, add the confectioners’ sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while whisking until smooth and combined. You may need to play with the sugar and lemon juice amounts a bit as necessary for desired consistency and flavor.
- *WAIT* until your loaf is room temperature before frosting for best results or it will be a melty mess. I was in a rush today so my loaf’s frosting could be more pretty. To get that solid frosting glaze add heavy cream to your sugar and lemon.
- Evenly drizzle glaze over bread before slicing and serving. Extra glaze can be served on the side Or you can halve the glaze recipe if you’re not a glaze person. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Brag alert! My son made me this cutting board for Christmas in shop class. He used a laser engraver to add my blog logo. You know I’ll have this forever. LOVE IT!