Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Orange Date Cake

I made this cake for a small party at Marta's house about a month ago. It is so incredibly fragrant of oranges that Marta told me she could not walk past it without taking a bite. She's been after me to post the recipe ever since. The interesting thing is that it uses whole clementines...no peeling necessary! I remember a cake I made years ago from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook that used whole seedless navel oranges and was made entirely in a blender. This one is made in the food processor and is just as easy. I found the original recipe in the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light but have changed it considerably in the many times I have made it. I've made my share of fussy cakes (and some of my most requested recipes are multi step concoctions), but I prefer cakes I can put together in a flash whenever we have a craving for something sweet. Another reason I really like this recipe is that it doesn't suffer from using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, which the original recipe called for. The rustic nature of the ground walnuts, dates and oranges really benefits from the equally rustic quality of whole wheat pastry flour. This is a cake you can eat sans glaze, but the confectioners sugar glaze perfumed with freshly grated clementine zest takes it over the top. The same batter also makes great muffins! One recipe makes one dozen muffins-see below.
Start with preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" cake pan with pan spray and line the bottom with a piece of parchment cut to fit. Grab 2 clementines and quarter them. Although these are thought to be seedless, I have found a seed from time to time. So pick out any seeds. Measure out 1/2 cup walnuts. Pit 3 dates and 4 prunes-you can use 6 dates if you want, but the first time I made this cake I only had 3 dates so I replaced the remainder with prunes and I really liked it. Use what you have.
Place all this in a food processor.
And grind away! You'll probably have to scrape down the sides a time or two to get it all ground finely.
Measure out 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 5 Tablespoons soft butter. Grab one large egg. Love the speckled egg! We have doubled our flock size in the last 2 months and are swimming in eggs!
 Throw all that in the food processor and process until well mixed.
Measure out 9 ounces (about 2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Measure out 1/2 cup buttermilk. I generally weigh out any whole grain flours instead of measuring them because I feel I get better results that way.
Add this to the mixture in the food processor and pulse until blended.
You will have to scrape down the sides once or twice to get it all mixed in.
The batter is quite thick. Spoon it into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool.
Now make the glaze. Mix 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) with the zest of one clementine. I have to say that my microplane is indispensable! I find myself using it almost daily.
 Add 1 Tablespoon water and mix to make a runny glaze.
Now pour that glaze over the middle of the cake and spread it out to the edges. I like how it looks when it partially runs over the sides. Here are a half dozen muffins and a 6" cake I made this morning.
A perfect treat with a cup of coffee or tea. Not too sweet and really moist.
Here's the recipe for you to copy and print out.
Orange Date Cake
1/2 cup walnuts
6 dates, pitted OR 3 dates and 4 prunes
2 clementines, quartered -NOT PEELED!
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
9 ounces (about 2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup powdered sugar
zest of one clementine
1 Tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" cake pan with pan spray and line the bottom with a piece of parchment cut to fit. Put clementines, walnuts and dates (or dates and prunes) in the food processor. Process until finely ground. You may have to scrape down the sides a time or two. Add brown sugar, butter, egg and vanilla and process until smooth. Add flour, soda, salt and buttermilk and pulse until mixed. You may have to scrape down the sides. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack. In a small bowl, mix all glaze ingredients and pour over the middle of the still warm cake. Spread the glaze out to the edges. Garnish with whole walnuts if desired.
For one dozen muffins, reduce baking time to 25-30 minutes. Dip tops of muffins in glaze while still warm.

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