Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Out of an Orange Colored Sky...

Flash! Bam! Alakazam ... wonderful you came by.

That's how I feel about oranges in the winter. They brighten. Heighten - taste, sun, sweetness, tang. Alakazam! That's especially how I feel about orange sweets! Wham! Bam! I am obsessed with finding a recipe for these orange crisps that I had at the Forno Campo de'Fiori in Rome. We stumbled on the small bakery and somehow I managed to "stumble" upon that bakery every afternoon when we were in Rome. Serendipity?

I haven't found the right "orange crisp" recipe. But I have been devouring orange treats. I am calling it research. And much tastier research than the year I have spent seeking information on the North Pole and Siberia. Given the arctic winter* here - I probably would have been better researching the tropics.

*Note: In the last two days it was warmer in Siberia than in Minnesota. I researched.

I found this Sicilian Orange Cake from Mary One Perfect Bite blog. It's sort of an orange sponge cake. Just sweet enough. More importantly, it is citrusy enough. Bright enough. Sharp enough to cut through winter. When it occurs in the spring. I think of it as a snack cake. And a fruit serving. And a reward for donning six layers of clothes just to go get the mail. It's my way of fantasizing that I am in a Sicilian orange grove.

Florentine Schiacciata

2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice (I used a wee bit more)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons
1-1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
confectioner's sugar for dusting (I skipped that - I squirted orange juice over it - I am serious about citrus)

Mary states that preparation is fifteen minutes. I dutifully got out all my ingredients, zested and squeezed the orange and had the flour, salt and baking powder sifted in a bowl. Waiting to be transformed into cake.

When it happened.

You see that little thing below with an out-of-control Maine-coon cat tail?

He looks so innocent. doesn't he? After I squeezed the orange, I turned around and that little innocent feline was sitting in the bowl of flour. Splashing. No, there are no photos. All I could see was the flour being dragged through the home, over the piano, up the stairs and through the bedrooms. He has a lot of fur. And it had a lot of flour.

So my prep took considerably longer. Luckily, he likes water (he missed a cat gene somewhere along the line). So he got scrubbed and everything else did also.

(Not counting cleaning the cat, washing the kitchen and redoing the ingredients.) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper; grease and flour it.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, zest and juice. Combine olive oil and milk (Mary suggests in a 2 cup measurement.) Whisk it into the egg mixture. In a medium bowl sift flour, salt and baking powder. (I throw it all in the bowl and whisk it.) In three parts, fold it into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes until done. (Mine took 35 minutes. The edges got wonderfully crackled but the inside was still mixture - so do the toothpick test all over to make sure all is cooked.) Cool in pan for ten minutes. Invert on to cooling rack till cooled. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Or not.

It's all sunshine and light - which is what you want on March 20th - something springy and spongy - all sunbeams and light and Sicilian dreams.

In my search for the orange cookies from Rome, I came across these. They're not what I was looking for but I didn't mind. They were good. I'd skip the icing/glaze though. They're just sweet enough.

Orange Cookies

They're from Taste of Home and the link to the recipe is here.

I used Blood Oranges. Cause I could.

I haven't figured out how to cook with Luce yet. I never had a cat so determined to "help." "Like a bird with a French fry," says my daughter.

Or a kitten with a Cheeto. (For the record that's my sister allowing Luce a Cheeto. I don't do that stuff - heaven forbid.)

In case you're in an orange mood... alakazam! It's spring!


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

That Luce is a character isn't he. He must be great company. I hope it warms up for you. In the meantime enjoy your beautiful orange cake and dream of Sicilian orange groves.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm always interested in these olive oil cakes and an orange flavored one sounds like just the way to welcome spring. Luce needs his own kitchen tools it seems. what a charmer. and that song has always capitvated me.

Mister Meatball said...

I recently butchered a lovely Sicilian orange cake recipe. Also with blood oranges. Good on you.

Beth said...

Oh, I love oranges in the winter! I actually crave their sweet flavour. In the meantime, your cake looks lovely, and I loved your temperature comparison to Siberia. Ha!

A Sunflower Life said...

I love your cat story, and the orange cake sounds lovely. Have you looked for lemon crisp recipes to adapt to orange? I see a lot of the lemon ones out there.

Barbara GF said...

Oh, Claudia, what a "tail" that is - gorgeous kitty there, even if he is a rascal. I love citrus cakes and cookies, too, and will have to give your Florentine Schiacciata a try - I like these olive oil cakes. Happy Easter! Spring is bound to come.

Claudia said...

Thanks, Linda - I have tried some lemon crisps - with orange - either too crispy or not crispy enough. I guess that's why they're a bakery in Rome and I'm - not!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

This March weather stinks! Even down in Indiana! There is even a chance of snow on Sunday...ugh. No wonder I've needed extra cookies :) Orange cake would suffice, too. And Luce is a character...I shared your story with my daughter and she burst into laughter :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Luce is adorable! We've had Maine Coon cats in the past, and they're wonderful. One of ours also really liked water - he used to sit in the bath tub and tongue the faucet until we'd turn water on a bit. One of our neighbors also had a cat that liked the tub, and he mentioned he read someplace that because cats are original desert animals, they may have a water loving gene. Who knows? Anyway, great looking cake! Oranges have terrific flavor, and they certainly do brighten up gloomy winter weather. Really fun post - thanks so much.

Reeni said...

What a cute kitty! A kitchen cat like my Moon, always wanting to help and be in the thick of it all. The cake I need in my life! That tart citrus and sweetness. Perfect.

Lyndas recipe box said...

I love oranges in the winter too, and in my sweets as well Claudia.
This cake looks so tasty-hope you shared with your sweet, innocent looking cat! :)

Angie's Recipes said...

Sitting in the bowl of flour...Luce sure knows how to HELP!
Both orange cake and cookies are looking very delicious.

Joanne said...

Oranges are so perfect at this time of year! Love that you've been enjoying them to their fullest!

chow and chatter said...

This cake sounds divine and wow naughty cat sounds like my little boy and oh so cute

Chef E said...

Found this via Rebecca.

I love orange!

Love this post!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Oh Claudia, I laughed so hard reading your post, that my husband asked me to read it aloud to him and share! What a great post . . . the crazy weather, the insane life of living with cats (we have 4), and a perfect orange citrusy recipe to whisk us off to Italy! You have a gift with words and I LOVE it! Keep my laughing, it truly is good medicine for the soul! Especially on a dreary, London-grey, rainy day in the South!

FOODESSA said...

I think it's time that Luce gets his own Chef hat and he'll never leave the kitchen ;o)

Claudia...the texture of those cookies were prime for the taking.
I love oranges and this cake sounds wonderful.

Have a warmer week and flavourful wishes,

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

Reminds me why I don't have house cats anymore. (I remain a cat lover; they just stay in the barn, sometimes welcomed to the garage.)Thanks for the research about Siberia. I'm thinking Pennsylvania's not far behind in the winter factor.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh my, Luce in you bowl of flour must have been a sight, Claudia! perhaps Luce was a chef in a past life? LOL!

I have been tempted to make an orange cake many times this winter as I have been buying big bags full of Cara cara oranges at Costco while they have been in season. This looks like a wonderful recipe to try!

Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...

I stumbled upon your blog today in some research around Florentine contucci. I am glad I found you. I am a kindred spirit with an obsessive love for Italy and a disctinctly US zip code. When I'm not in Italy, I bring Italy to me through cooking and exploring the NY city area. I am anxious to see what other recipes you have to share.

My blog is fairly new, so there isn't a ton of content yet. If you get a chance, stop by -

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love oranges, especially in bakes goods and dishes. The cake and cookies look very tempting, and you kitty is really cute.



Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

It really does scream Spring with its citrus notes.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Now I've heard of kittens on the keys but never one who plays with flour :-) Your cookies demand to be tried. I'm about to roll up my sleeves and do just that. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

Ooh Claudia! What a lovely dessert!

Those smaller cookies look fantastic too! You have 1 very lovely looking cat: very pretty too! :)

Happy Easter to you & your family! :) xxx