Sunday, October 5, 2008

"In the Bag" Event: The Best Orange Cake with Even Better Company

I dumped my bags on my unmade bed, unloaded my groceries in the kitchen, and popped open my computer when I got home today. So, here I sit in an otherwise empty room listening to songs rise out of my lap top's speakers, songs that I want to commit to memory and hold fast to as a picture of this past weekend.

I got to spend Saturday and half of today with people I love dearly. If I were to name the college friends I plan on sticking around Facebook for after college, who I would move out of the country to room with in a little European flat, who I want to keep my drawers stocked with stationary for, knowing that a letter sent through the mail is worth the extra time and postage to try and communicate my sincerity, and who, right now, bring happiness by simply snuggling on a couch together, arms intertwined and legs stretched across each other, these would be a good number of them.

I have been blessed by many wonderful friendships in college, but not many have manifested themselves in a cohesive group like this one. I love you, girls.

One of us is going off to Spain in a couple weeks (not me, not yet), and so we got together to wish her well in the coming year. Plenty of desserts were present, as we threw a party for the fact that she is deserting us, and the Orange Cake I made last spring was requested. I gladly obliged.

This cake is so enjoyable to make because the ingredients are simple and pure, and as the whole oranges cook for two hours, they release a sweet citrus fragrance that fills the air.

As it so happens, today is the first birthday of this wee blog. One Hungry Soul is turning one! So the presentation of this cake is also in memory of the day I started exploring the world of food through a camera lens and connecting with like-minded cooks and bakers. You are all brilliant. Thank you so much for introducing yourselves to me and sharing in this journey. Getting to know you through your comments and/or your blogs has enriched my own experiences in the kitchen and in life.

My previous Orange Cake post is here. There is also a link to it on my recipe index. Both places link back to the original recipe, which I have not significantly altered, but if you want to go directly to it click here (a more detailed description is available here).

My notes:
[Nigella Lawson is one of my heroes in the kitchen. I am indebted to her for the brilliance of this cake as I submit it to The Real Epicurean's "In The Bag" seasonal food blogging event.

Previously, I used almond meal, but it is not the cheapest thing to come by where I live, so I finely ground almonds in small batches in the blender this time, making sure not to let them turn to a paste. I didn't even make sure they were blanched, just using the slivered ones, which lent a more rustic aesthetic to the cake.

While Nigella used clementines in the original, two oranges (375 g. or 1 lb.) are a great substitute. I used Cara Caras, which made the color of the cake darker. And because I had difficulty getting it out of the pan and cracked the cake along the way, it worked out perfectly to arrange some candied orange slices on top. A dollop of crème fraîche went in the middle of my asymmetrical "flower" and more in a bowl on the side to accompany deliciously big slices.]

Please indulge me as I post a few more pictures of my time in the past two days. Granted, they are of food, but the sweetest part of those hours was the company. Including getting to share in some Norwegian company and taste my first Kringla, a Norwegian bread-like cookie (I'm still researching it, so please pass on any information or recipes you have because it hasn't been part of my family's recipe pile, and I'd love to include it.)

Update: And here is the site for the roundup of all the delicious recipes submitted to In the Bag!


GrantJM said...

Yes, you may continue to indulge us with your food experiences as well as all your photos! I love the B&W ones. Thank you Lael for doing what you love and being what we love ;)

Happy said...

Your orange cake was delicious!!We all over-indulged in "sweets".--But, the true sweetness was being surrounded by you wonderfully sweet young ladies. I love each of you and I am so proud of you.
What a great week-end.

Rachael said...

Happy Birthday, One Hungry Soul. No birthday cake? I guess the orange cake can count as it.
I'm glad you had a wonderful girls-weekend-getaway. Now a trip to Uncle Jordan's will be next, right? I can't wait to see the photos you'd come back with from there!
Hope you made it home okay through the stormy evening tonight.

Lael said...

Grantjm: Thanks for all the love :)

Happy: We all enjoyed having you and Papa there too. Hopefully we can have coffee together again soon and talk about our Norwegian roots.

Rachael: I can only handle so much cake at a time, and since the orange cake is my new favorite, it fulfilled its multiple purposes. By the way, I got thoroughly soaked getting home, but all is well.

Prudy said...

Who could want for more?
What a gorgeous cake to compliment all the wonderful desserts and even better company.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Orange works so well in cakes, this is perfect for a birthday...

Great recipe!

Lael said...

Prudy: You're so right. The picture was pretty much complete.

Scott: Thank you. And thanks for hosting In The Bag!

Jules said...

I love the look of this cake. You can't beat Nigella cake recipes.

jmesserer said...


You are inspiring me to get back in the kitchen more. I have been distracted by painting our house and a week in New Mexico with the family.

You are heading back to Bellingham for thanksgiving right?

I will keep looking for a ride.

Take care
Unc Jordan

Antonia said...

Ooh - I've spotted this cake in Nigella's book and been meaning to try it out. It looks fantastic - so delicious.
Congratulations on your blog's birthday too!

Lael said...

Jules: Thanks for the visit and your compliments. Nigella does seem to have some magic in her fingertips, doesn't she?

Jmesserer: Always glad to share in the exchange of inspiration (you contribute your fair share by bread-making and beer-brewing). Hopefully it won't be long until I get to see you.

Antonia: Thank you! It really is wonderful cake. Try it and let me know if you agree.