Monday, January 28, 2013

upside-down blood orange cake.

I've spent much of the last week deep in thought.  Thoughts about life and my career and relationships and traveling and where I see myself in 5 years and 10 years and 20 years.  It's funny how when I think back to 21 I thought when I reached 27 on the cusp of 28 that I would have it all figured out.  That I would know where I was going and exactly when I was going to reach the next step and here I am now, slowly realizing that I am completely unsure of anything and I am slowly accepting that this is probably how the rest of my life will go - always unsure of the next step but hoping I figure it out.  Maybe we spend our whole lives trying to get to a point where we have it figured it out and most likely we spend our whole life failing to get there but it we're lucky the trip will be worth it.

I've come to realize the only things I am sure of is that cooking (and my super awesome dishwasher and #1 taste tester) make me happy.  I figure if I keep trying new recipes and exploring new restaurants and constantly pushing myself, that that is the best I can do.  And with that mindset, that is how I found myself on a bitterly cold Friday evening after terribly long and exhausting day at work, coming home to make an upside-down blood orange cake.  It had been on my mind for over a week - ever since it caught my eye when I was sneakily pursuing the dinning section of the NYTimes at work.  This is the cake dreams are made of (or maybe just my dreams). It's a cake with a personality - some bites sweet, some just a touch tart. It's a cake that's beautiful with it's shades of pink and orange and yellow (blood oranges are gorgeous) .  It's a cake that makes you think which is always a good thing in my book.  

Upside-Down Blood Orange Cake
Recipe via the NYTimes

270 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks + 3 tablespoons) at room temperature
130 grams light brown sugar (about 2/3 cup)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 medium sized blood oranges
122 grams fine cornmeal (about 1 cup)
65 grams all-purpose flour (about ½ cup)
8 grams baking powder (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
2 grams fine sea salt (about ½ teaspoon)
200 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. 

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons (45 grams) butter.  Add the brown sugar and lemon juice; stir until sugar melts, about 3 minutes.  Scrape mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. 

Grate ½ teaspoon zest from one of the oranges, the slice off the tops and bottoms of both oranges.  Place oranges on a clean, flat service, and slice away the rind and pith, top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit.  Slice each orange crosswise into ¼ inch thick wheels; discard any seeds.  Arrange orange wheels on top of brown sugar mixture in a single, tight layer. 

In a large bowl, whisk together orange zest, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together the remaining 2 sticks (225 grams) butter with granulated sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in sour cream and vanilla.  Fold in the dry mixture by hand. 

Scrape batter into pan over oranges.  Transfer to oven and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 40 – 50 minutes.  Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then run a knife along pan’s edges to loose it; invert onto a platter and cool completely before serving. 

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