26 February 2016

Orange Cake with Mascarpone Frosting, Pomegranate Seeds, and Candied Orange Peel

Last week I was blown away by the revelation that you can whip ganache. I don't know how I didn't know that but it changes everything. This week's revelation is mascarpone frosting.

I love baking under just about any circumstances, but I love being challenged with an ingredient. I visiting friend requested something with pomegranate and after some puzzling we decided on an orange-pomegranate combination. As an added bonus they're both winter fruits so I was able to get fresh, seasonal produce from my favorite local market.

I dream of one day having my own house built. the kitchen will take up a good chunk of the floor plan and will include double ovens built into the wall and simply acres and acres of counter space. In the meantime I made do here with a mini oven borrowed from my neighbor and only enough counter to put the cutting board. Baking usually requires a fair amount of shifting as everything that normally lives on top of the mini oven has to be taken off and put on the range or the small space between the sink and the counter. However for this recipe I needed not only the oven but also the range and the number of steps it involved outnumbered my mixing bowls requiring me to do a complicated dance of rearranging, mixing, washing, cooking, and baking.

A complicated dance that takes place in a space as small as my counter allowance and that usually also involves dodging Sherlock who, if not monitoring my actions from her perch atop the microwave is usually trying to climb up my legs.

Aside from the flavor, which was rather marvelous, one of the best things about this cake is the bright colors! Like many of my past cakes it wasn't the most well decorated creation ever but the intense colors of the pomegranate seeds and candied orange peels made up for it.

Recipe (adapted from BBC Food):

To decorate:
  • 1 orange
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 50 g/1 3/4 oz sugar

For cake:
  • 1 orange
  • 275g/9 3/4oz self-rising flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 275g/9 3/4oz sugar
  • 275g/9 3/4oz butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For frosting:
  • 50g/1 3/4oz butter, softened
  • 175g/6oz powdered sugar
  • 250g/9oz full-fat mascarpone cheese
  1.  Zest the orange (I use a plain old vegetable peeler and chop the resulting strips small). Place in a small pan and pour boiling water over the zest. Add half the sugar and let boil for just a couple minutes. Strain out the zest, arrange in a single layer as much as possible on non-stick paper, sprinkle remaining sugar over it, and set aside. To seed the pomegranate, I prefer the water method but do whatever works best for you. Set aside the seeds.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. Zest the second orange. Using a food processor, combine zest and sugar to make orange sugar. This isn't necessary but I think it's a nice touch.
  4. Separate the fruit from what remains of the orange peel and chop up the fruit in a food processor (or if you don't have one mash it up however you like). Set aside.
  5. Blend the orange sugar and butter with food processor, stand mixer, or hand mixer until fluffy and add eggs one at a time. Blend in the dry ingredients. Finally fold in the mashed up orange.
  6. Separate the mixture between 2 8in baking pans and bake at 180C/350F for about 30 minutes. After the cakes are done, turn off the oven and put in the orange peels that you candied earlier. With the oven off they won't cook but the heat will help dry them out a lot faster than just leaving them lying about.
  7. While the cakes cool put together the frosting. Blend the butter and powdered sugar. BBC Food says until "smooth"...I got no smooth, just powdered sugar that resembled damp sand. If that's what you get don't worry about it, you're fine. At wet sand stage blend in the mascarpone cheese. 
  8. To assemble the cake: if your cakes rose/you have mad slicing skills halve the cakes to make four layers. Divide the frosting between however many layers you have, stacking them with frosting and pomegranate seeds between each layer. Top the cake with frosting (and frost the sides as well if you have enough) and decorate with pomegranate seeds and the candied orange peels.
*I don't have self-rising flour so I substituted with regular flour and some additives. For every 8oz of regular flour add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. It worked fine but my cakes didn't rise very much so I made a two, not four layer cake.

No comments: