Last winter, I saw this recipe on Joy The Baker’s blog. It is beautiful and looked so bright and cozy all at the same time. In the winter with the dreary days, that’s exactly what I crave. The very next day we woke up to a white morning with snow continuing to fall. Of course my kids were out of school and of course, the university where I teach was not. I began corresponding with my colleagues about what we were going to do about classes, given that the weather report indicated that the snow might continue. I live the closest to campus of our department and most of them have winding and hilly roads to traverse. What I really wanted was to stay home in my pajamas and make this whole orange coffee cake and enjoy the snow day with my family.
Within an hour, as the accumulation continued to increase, the university sent out an announcement that classes would be closed due to the inclement weather! Such a joy! Such a rare occasion. I could enjoy the snow day with my family!! I immediately ran to the kitchen where I assessed the ingredients to see if we could make the cake. Ironically the only ingredient missing was the thin skinned oranges. I decided to send a text requesting orange contributions to my two ingredient-sharing neighbors (Sumner and Lindsey) in exchange for some cake. They each had a couple of oranges of different varieties to share.
Lucy was already in the front yard, gathering bowls of snow for making snow cream, and sledding with the neighbors down the street. I asked her to retrieve some oranges from the neighbors.
Once the ingredients were secured, I baked the cake and cut it into large sections and packaged them up for Lucy to deliver back to them. She used our Little Red wagon to make the deliveries.
Last week when we were predicted to have snow, I bought some oranges in hopes of having a Snow Day Whole Orange Coffee Cake. Alas, there was just rain. So. much. rain. Last night, we got word that school was cancelled due to flooding. So, I promptly made the cake. So this time it was Flood Day Whole Orange Coffee Cake.
My favorite attributes of this cake are the lovely combination of the spices in the streusel and the use of WHOLE oranges. It feels resourceful and special- to chop the entire orange and get all the benefits of the flesh, peel and juice.
Beware: This recipe has several steps and a long list of ingredients, which can be intimidating. However, it is very straightforward and low risk-it turns out nicely! So, don’t let the length of the recipe turn you off! The only change I made from Joy’s recipe was to add a glaze. Because the streusel ends up on the bottom and in the middle, it seems to beg for a little glaze. Joy recommends serving with whipped cream instead, which would be lovely but a little less portable and sharable. Which are qualities I value in a coffee cake.
FOR THE CRUMBLE
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp course salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
FOR THE CAKE
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
2-3 medium navel or cara cara oranges (you need 1 1/2 cups of ground oranges so maybe 2 oranges will do if they’re on the large side. Thin skins are key.)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
ORANGE GLAZE- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar & a few spoons full of orange juice
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a bundt pan with butter, shortening, or nonstick baking spray. Dust generously with flour and knock the excess flour out of the pan. Or use Baker’s Joy- all in one spray. Set pan aside.
Make the Crumble: In a medium bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to mix the butter into the dry mixture, creating a crumble. Set aside.
Make the Cake:
Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Orange Grinding: Chop whole oranges into 2-inch chunks – peel and all! You’ll want to use oranges that don’t have a very thick peel and pith. Choose oranges that have a thinner peel and are relatively seedless. Place the oranges in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Place the lid on the food processor, or chopper of some sort and pulse a few rounds to start. Process the oranges on low speed until the peel, flesh and juice begin to meld, creating a well ground, thick orange mixture. The mixture won’t be completely smooth. It’s ok if there are small pea size chunks of peel in the mixture. Spoon mixture into a glass measuring cup and measure 1 1/2 cups ground orange to use in the cake. Set aside the measured orange mixture.
Batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place softened butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on low speed, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract until well combined.
On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients. Stir on slow speed just to incorporate. Add the orange mixture and sour cream and mix to just combine.Add the final half of the dry ingredients. Stir on slow speed just to incorporate. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to find any hidden flour pockets. Give the cake batter one last burst of energy, mixing on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds, just to get it all well incorporated.
Spoon half of the thick cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth even. Add just over half of the crumble mixture and lightly swirl with a butter knife.
Add the remaining cake batter to the pan and smooth. Add the remaining crumble and again use the butterknife to swirl the cake batter over the crumble mixture – incorporating it.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, not wet batter.
Place on a wire rack to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Before inverting the cake onto a wire rack, gently run a knife down the sides to help loosed any bits that may have stuck.
The key is to invert the cake while it’s just lightly warm, but not hot.
Stir together the glaze: 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar with spoons full of orange juice stirred in- not too thick to pour, but not too thin to coat. Use a spoon to drip in zig zags back and forth over cake.
Serve warm or cooled with coffee or tea.
If you are having a snow day, or a flood day, or a sunny day, or even a cloudy day or any old day- whatever the day- this cake is delicious and ought to be enjoyed and shared!