Simple and highly customizable.
It’s Sunday afternoon and you feel like baking something sweet but you also don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen or make a ton of dishes? This is where this cake comes in.
Gentl And Hyers / Chronicle Books
It’s from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories, which is probably my favorite cookbook.
I've written about it several times on this site but it's so good that here I am talking about it again. Turshen's style is thoroughly relatable and approachable, her recipes are never intimidating, and the most involved ones are truly worth the effort. Every recipe I've tried from the book has been really great.
This recipe is cryptically named “Afternoon Cake” but it’s basically an orange, ground nuts, and olive oil cake.
The recipe is as easy as they come and easily customizable: You can use any ground nut you want (I used pistachios for mine), and you can replace the orange with any other citrus (I used a mix of orange and blood orange).
The result is the kind of cake you can’t stop eating but also don’t feel bad about devouring. It’s not too sweet (but sweet enough), really flavorful, and satisfying.
Makes one 8-inch (20-cm) cake
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (50 g) finely ground nuts (see Note)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange, plus ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh orange juice
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of an 8-in (20-cm) cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground nuts, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are fully combined. Add the olive oil and granulated sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved (test by rubbing some of the mixture between two fingers). Whisk in the vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice. Whisk in the flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, being sure to use a rubber spatula to get it all out of the bowl. Hold the pan just a little bit above the counter and then drop it on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.
Bake until the cake is beautifully golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the cake, still in its pan, to a wire rack and let it cool completely. Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and invert it onto your work surface (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter so the flat side is down and the domed side is up.
Just before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar.
Note: Any nut works well in this cake. To make ground nuts, just put whichever type of nut you’d like (I’ve made this cake successfully with walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios, and am sure pecans and pine nuts would also be great) in the food processor and blitz until they’re as fine as cornmeal. Or use a mortar and pestle. Or purchase ground nuts, which often go by the name “meal” or “flour” as in “almond meal” or “almond flour.” For a nut-free cake, simply omit the ground nuts and add an additional ½ cup (60 g) flour.
Feel free to SUBSTITUTE ANY CITRUS in place of the orange. Clementine, tangerine, blood orange, and grapefruit zest all work very well.
FOR A LEMON–POPPY SEED CAKE, use lemon zest and juice instead of orange and add 1 Tbsp poppy seeds to the batter.
If you’re using ground almonds, add ½ tsp ALMOND EXTRACT to the batter for a more intense almond flavor.
Just before you put the cake in the oven, dot the top with ¼ cup (80 g) RASPBERRY JAM and use a fork or the tip of a paring knife to swirl in the jam.
Reprinted from Small Victories by Julia Turshen with permission by Chronicle Books, 2016.
For more delicious recipes, check out Small Victories by Julia Turshen, which you can order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore on IndieBound.