Birthday Cake All Grown Up


The past week was the best kind of whirlwind; full of birthdays, elaborate meals, a weekend away, and best of all, lots and lots of cake.

I looked in the pantry at 6pm on my husband’s birthday and realized two crucial things: I had procrastinated baking a cake until 6pm, and I had no butter or white flour. Undeterred, I stumbled upon a gem of a recipe I will be revisiting time and again. Imagine an unbelievably tender orange scented crumb studded with the faint crunch of poppyseeds. A generous drizzle of a glossy orange-chocolate ganache takes this cake completely over the edge. The wonders continue: its made completely with whole wheat pastry flour and only 1/2 cup of olive oil and it comes together in a flash with minimal dishes, no mixer required!

Evan and Matt

Our wedding cake table

I am not a big cake person. I find they’re often dry and lacking in flavor, topped with a shelack of overly sweet frosting. Not my thing. So when I got married last summer, I wasn’t eager to go the wedding cake route. We ended up baking 5 varieties of bundt cakes for the wedding — the cake is super moist and flavorful and paired with a light glaze rather than frosting. And the shape of the cake is already so fancy, it needs little in the way of decoration.

Since we had so much success with the wedding cakes, bundt cake has become my go to when I need to bake something. Essentially the same thing as a pound cake (a bundt cake recipe usually calls for 10 cups of batter; roughly two pound cakes) olive oil cakes adapt especially well to the format. They stay very moist, and actually improve in the days immediately after baking. More pictures and recipe after the jump…

Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake With Orange-Chocolate Ganache

Prep time: 15 minutes                Cook time: 35-50 minutes

An increadibly moist and falvorful cake. Made with olive oil, yogurt, poppyseeds and whole wheat flour this is much healther than your average cake, but you really don’t sacrifice anything in flavor or texture. Its healthy enough I may have called it breakfast once or twice. This recipe makes one small (1/2 size) bundt cake, for a taller bundt cake double the recipe (the baking time will increase); it could also be baked in a loaf pan as a pound cake.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup sugar
approx 3 teaspoons grated zest (from 1 med orange or 2-3 tangerines)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
approx 1/4 cup juice of 1 medium orange or 2-3 tangerines
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
Orange-chocolate ganache (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350. Thoroughly butter and flour a bundt pan, making sure to grease the crevices well for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to aerate the mixture.

Mix sugar and zest thoroughly to release oils in a separate bowl.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine yogurt and orange juice to yield 1 cup total liquid. Whisk the yogurt and  juice, eggs and vanilla into the sugar mixture to combine well. Add olive oil and mix to combine well.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet, just until incorporated.  The batter will be shiny and relatively thin. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for approximately 35-50 minutes, checking often after the first 30 minutes of baking. Depending on the thickness of the pan and the true temp of your oven, the cake could require more or less time. You really don’t want to overcook this cake; look for a light golden brown top and sides that have just started to pull away from the pan; a knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Check often and you won’t overcook it.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Invert the plate you plan to serve the cake on over the pan; with a swift and decisive motion flip the cake and, if necessary bang lightly to unmold. Enjoy as is or allow to cool and top with orange-chocolate ganache.

recipe adapted from Cookie + Kate

Orange Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream                                                                                                                                                                 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (skip the super dark chocolate here, you want a more mild flavor)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
small pinch sea salt

Heat cream in a small sauce pan until almost boiling (do not let it boil). Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted and glossy. Stir in orange zest and salt.

Glaze cake while chocolate is warm. Spoon onto cake and allow glaze to run down the sides.

Voila! And in keeping with the last minute nature of the endeavor, I glazed it right before we ate it— and only snapped a few blurry pictures.


the glazed cake

A few more pictures from the week.

One birthday table

One birthday table

an improvised centerpiece

an improvised centerpiece

another birthday table — yellow this time!

another birthday table — yellow this time!

I hope each of you has an occasion for cake on the horizon. If not, Happy May Day! Sounds good enough to me…


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