This light, moist, citrusy cake is one of my favorites. It rises nice and high and it's very easy to make. I especially enjoy serving it at coffee time. When I was working, I would get a call from my sister almost every day in the late afternoon and she would ask, "Coffee time?" My answer was always yes! We would go to our mother's house, where we were always greeted with the most amazing aroma of freshly percolated coffee, pizzelle, or cakes just like this one. And we never left empty-handed. My mother would send us on our way with freshly made sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce), lasagne, cannelloni, or fresh bread. I look forward to these types of rituals, not because of all the goodies, but because it's time to catch up and spend quality time with my family. I believe it's one of the reasons our large family remains so close.
6 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tbsp superfine sugar, divided
grated zest of 2 oranges
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 tspn cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup superfine sugar
zest of 1 orange in large strips (with no pith attached)
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded
2 to 3 tbsp Cointreau or other orange liqueur
- Separate the cold eggs. Place the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a stand mixer. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Very lightly coat with butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tube pan with feet and removable bottom.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine well.
- Use a handheld mixer to beat the egg yolks, oil, vanilla, and 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the orange zest and juice.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating to just combine.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, beginning at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high. When the whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar. At the soft peak stage, add the remaining 2 tbsp sugar.
- Using a large flexible spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the batter, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.
- Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and immediately invert the pan onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely in the pan upside down on the rack.
- While the cake bakes, prepare the orange syrup.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the orange juice, sugar, orange zest, and the vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the liqueur, and continue to simmer until the syrup reduces and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a pourable container. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.
- Flip the cake over, carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the pan, and turn the cake out onto a serving plate or cake stand.
- To serve, place the cake on dessert plates and serve with warm orange syrup.
Recipe courtesy of Grace's Sweet Life by Grace Massa Langlois