27 April 2014

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Candied Orange

Blood Orange Cake with Candied Orange
Those of you who follow More Than Burnt Toast know of my obsession with creating cakes made of olive oil in the Mediterranean tradition. Butter usually takes centre stage in baking when thinking of some of my favourites like butter tarts, buttery cream frosting and shortbread cookies. But there is something that draws me back time and time again to olive oil. After my successes with olive oil cakes made with blood orangesclementinesMeyer lemon and poppy seed , bananapumpkin and Ottolenghi's Apple Cake I thought that my next adventure would explore the blood orange one again. This "not-to-sweet"  cake made with blood orange olive oil from our local store Olivia's instead of butter, is a perfect  end of the season recipe using what's left of the winter citrus.

In warm-weather Mediterranean countries where olives grow, and where butter spoils quickly, sweets are more likely to be made with age-old olive oil. In Italy, bakers add olive oil to everything from biscotti to apple cakes. In Spain and Morocco, the zesty character of orange semolina cake is enhanced with fruity-flavoured olive oil. The tender, crumbly Greek cookies kourambiedes, too, are made with olive oil. Oil will tenderize your cake batter and help keep it moist. So it is often used in fruity, dense quick breads and muffins that are leavened with baking powder and baking soda. The trick is keeping mixing to a minimum to prevent developing tough strands of gluten. 

 Blood oranges are juicy, sweet with  a dark red interior and are slightly less acidic than regular table oranges. Originally from Sicily (Italy) and Spain the blood orange has gained in popularity and can be found fresh or in juice form in many local grocery stores. Blood oranges contain a pigment called anthocyanin which is not typically found in citrus but rather more common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented but depending on the variety the outside may also have dark washes of red. What we find here in our stores probably are grown in either California of Texas. U.S. grown blood oranges are in season from late fall to early spring. 

As Elise of Simply Recipes says, "Those of you who love blood oranges don't need to be told how exquisitely wonderful they are. In the kingdom of citrus, blood oranges are royalty. You know that every bite is an explosion of sweet, deep orange flavor, with hints of raspberry."  If you've never had a blood orange, or have shied away from them because of the name, think "Sangria" which in Spanish means "blood" and get yourself to a store that carries them. You will be delighted by them." 

I brought my first blood oranges of the season home from the store with the thoughts of making an olive oil cake. Today was the day. Since blood oranges are grown in Italy and Spain I thought an olive oil cake would be the perfect marriage of flavours. Olive oil makes your cakes dense and rich and faintly fruity.  I mixed gently, watched my masterpiece in the oven closely, waited impatiently for it to cool, sprinkled it liberally with warm syrup from candying the oranges and then sliced into it. And amazing it was!!!! There is just something about olive oil cake that just "turns my crank":D With this experiment I was happy to find the results were a perfectly cooked and delicately crumbed cake. I know this is something I will be making again and again in it's simplicity.

**Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Candied Orange**
adapted from Bon App├ętit magazine

Candied oranges and syrup

1 cup sugar
3 cup water
3/4 cup orange blossom honey
3 tablespoons green cardamom pods, crushed
1 small blood orange, thinly sliced


1 cup flour
1/2 cup semolina
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup olive oil (I used blood orange flavoured olive oil)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chopped unsalted pistachios, for garnish

For the candied orange and syrup, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silkpat. Cut the orange into thin slices. Bring sugar, water, honey and cardamom pods to a boil until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, turning orange slices occasionally, until they are tender and the syrup is reduced to 3 1/4 cups. This will take about 30 - 40 minutes. Arrange orange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Strain syrup. Set aside.

For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9" springform pan lightly with oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cardamom. Separate the eggs.

Beat the 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup sugar for 1 minute. Add the yolks and combine thoroughly. Add flour mixture and beat until blended. Beat in yogurt, zest and vanilla. Set aside.

Using a clean dry whisk attachment, beat egg whites in another bowl until opaque and soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until firm peak stage. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter in 2 additions. Transfer to prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Place the cake pan on a wire rack. Pierce hot cake with a toothpick. Slowly drizzle 3/4 cup warm syrup over the top of the cake. When syrup is absorbed, slowly pour 3/4 cup more syrup over. [I skipped the second application of syrup.] Reserve remaining syrup for serving.

Cool completely. Run a thin knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Carefully invert cake onto a plate and remove parchment paper. Invert again onto a serving platter so it’s right side up. Arrange candied orange slices over the top. Garnish with pistachios. Serve drizzled with more syrup, if desired.

Serves 12

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Wonderful cake. This is truly a lovely cake. blessings dear. Catherine

  2. Sounds delicious Val. I wonder if olive oil helps the cake to stay moist longer than butter would. I also had blood oranges here and made blood orange marmalade with them. Where did you get the orange blossom honey from? I brought a jar from Spain and wonder how to replace it when it's gone. Thanks for sharing the lovely recipe.

  3. I love olive oil cakes!

  4. oooh, yes... I made a very similar cake but it wasn't as light and fluffy looking as yours so i'm intrigued to follow your recipe and give it a go. I too adore olive oil cakes, they simply taste to beautiful!... thanks for sharing this recipe x

  5. A beautiful and delicious sounding/looking cake!



  6. Blood Orange Olive Oil sounds so exotic and wonderful, Val. :-) I will have to see if I can find some around here.

  7. Your blood orange olive oil cake is seriously beautiful Val. I could kick myself for missing blood orange season this year. If I knew exactly when their season was, I would put it on my calendar.

  8. It's a beautiful cake, Val. I love the semolina in it, gives it a texture when you have a mouthful. Haven't made an olive oil cake I've been happy with...can't wait to try this.

  9. I have never made an olive oil cake and I think I'm missing something special. It would stay so nice and moist with that lovely orange syrup.

  10. I love the texture of your cake. I've never done an olive oil cake and this looks like a delicious way to start!!


  11. Thanks for giving us all the info about blood oranges! I just came back from Italy where I ate them every day. The idea of using them for a cake sounds fantastic to me. p.s. this cake looks great, I can see it is as spongy as it should be. Olive oil instead of butter is my choice too for these type of cakes!

  12. MMMMMMmmmmmm! Love all the flavours and your ingenuity!

  13. You introduced me to olive oil cakes and although you assured me it was easy — and I did try it once — I haven’t made one again. This sure is making me want to try it again.

    1. I remember when you made the other cake Joan. I would suggest making my other blood orange cake which is in a loaf. http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.ca/2010/02/blood-orange-olive-oil-cake-real.html

  14. I love both blood oranges and olive oil cake with yogurt. Something I discovered last year was that the juice of blood oranges added to a cream cheese and powdered sugar frosting makes it so prettily pink. Your recipe with the addition of cardamom sounds perfect Val.

  15. I love olive oil cake as well - even though I doubted it before I tried it. This one looks amazing with the candied oranges, yum!!

  16. What a lovely creation! I need to revisit blood oranges.

  17. blood oranges were SO expensive here, i didn't get a single one this past season. i do love them though, and this is a wonderful way to feature them!

  18. What perfect timing to serve us such a cake! I have actually been thinking of an orange and olive oil cake before oranges disappear until next winter. Yours looks just delicious!

  19. I'm pretty sure citrus and olive oil were meant to be so I"m super into this cake!

  20. Love the combination of flavors in this cake - it looks and sounds delicious!

  21. Your cake sounds wonderful especially with the candied oranges. I haven't seen orange olive oil in our markets, I'll have to go on a scouting mission to see if I can find some.

  22. You don't have to sell me on olive oil or blood oranges (or sangria!). GREG

  23. I love this cake Val, look beautiful!

  24. Blood orange sounds so lovely in an olive oil cake. This would make an excellent afternoon snack right now!

  25. What a beautiful cake. I love blood oranges, almost the only truly seasonal fruit left. Olive oil cakes are so wonderful, with lots of flavor, remarkable keeping qualities and a particularly pleasing crumb, they are one of my favorite types of cake. This one is a keeper.

    1. I also enjoy that they are not too sweet either Adri. There is a place for everything.

  26. I love a delicious, moist and citrusy blood orange olive oil cake and yours looks perfectly delicious Val!

  27. Blood orange juice is my favorite breakfast tipple! I love the look (and sound) of that cake.....

  28. I adore blood oranges and this cake looks sensational. I have yet to try baking an olive oil cake but have been meaning to try for a while. How lovely to find olive oil flavoured with blood oranges to make your cake taste extra special!


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