It has been the new year once again since last Monday. For some reason, the Chinese (who are not just people from China) celebrate new year based on the Lunar Calendar. Something to do with the moon…lunar… Right. What I do know that it lasts 15 days, with the 7th being “Ren Re”, everybody’s birthday. And that was on Sunday.
Chinese new year isn’t just about peppering your wallet with red packets and money. It’s usually the time (and sometimes the only time) when families gather for reunion, just like Thanksgivings and Christmases. While I very much wish for reunions and house visits to loved ones, I gotta just settle for peeling mandarin oranges and munching on pineapple tarts — my favorite.
Since Sunday was a birthday for each and everyone, I decided on an orange cake, for obvious reasons. This cake was fantastic. It’s tender, and a little crumbly. It’s frosted with icing so citrusy, finished with a confetti of candied orange peel. Can you say double yum?
This cake is simple to make, taking only a small fraction of your day. The only bone I have to pick would be making the orange confiture (the candied peels). Cutting unwanted white piths out was only a pain in the butt. I need a proper tool, and so do you, if you love candied peels. Somehow, I see myself making more of this kind in the near future and beyond.
Though I didn’t enjoy Chinese New Year all that much, I do suppose that with cake, every day is Sunday. Happy belated birthday to one and all.
total time: 80 – 90 mins
For the orange confiture
2 medium large oranges
2 oz (50 g) sugar
For the cake
4 oz (170 g) sugar
6 oz (170 g) butter, softened
6 oz (170 g) All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing
4 oz (115 g) powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
For the orange confiture
Start with the orange peels confiture. For this cake, you will need about 3 generous tablespoonfuls of it. Peel the rind with a potato peeler. You only want the orange part, not the white pith, which gives you bitterness. Cut the strips into thin shreds. Transfer them to a small saucepan, with 1/3 cup water in it, and bring it to boil. After 5 minutes, drain the water and repeat with another 1/3 cup of water.
Meanwhile, squeeze the oranges. Beware of seeds. Drain the water from the saucepan again and dunk the juice in. Bring it to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 – 20 mins. Once the shreds are soft and the liquid is reduced, add the sugar and boil for 5 more mins. The confiture is ready once the liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons and is syrupy. Let it cool, and it will thicken.
For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan (9.5 x 3.5 inches).
Finely grate the lemon zest and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Then, add eggs in one by one, stirring till well combined. Next, sift flour and baking powder mixture over. Mix well to combine. Add lemon zest, 2/3 of the orange confiture and the vanilla; gently fold them in.
Transfer the batter to a loaf pan and bake over a rack, set in the middle level of the oven for 30 -35 minutes, or until golden brown and knife inserted comes out clean. Should you experience any “lava” batter coming out of the top like I did, simply tent it with foil if the cake has been browned enough. The aluminum foil will prevent any direct heat on the surface of the cake.
Remove the cake from the oven, allowing it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing it onto a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Sift the powdered sugar in a bowl and blend with the lemon juice till smooth. It should be thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Transfer the cooled cake onto waxed paper or a serving plate. Drizzle with the icing, leveling it quickly with a spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the orange confiture. Leave it to set for at least 30 minutes.