Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Sunday, baking friends! Have I told you about my new project yet? After years of working in and learning about the baking business, I'm making the leap - the lease is signed and my daughter, Laura, and I have set up an IndieGoGo account and we are looking to open our own cafe & bakery in my hometown. Here is the building, which was constructed in 1911, and is being lovingly restored by its current owner, Bob Poff:

We've got a little blog going about the venture, which we have decided to call Mockingbird Cafe & Bakery and you can read it here: Kirk Carter, a sweet and talented friend (whose work you can see more of at, was kind enough to take lovely pictures of us and a few of our goodies:

If you live in southwest Virginia and would like to facilitate having a bakery nearby, you can help here: There are great rewards if you do! Not only would you have our undying gratitude and affection, but $25 will earn you a cookie or cupcake a month for a year, $50 will keep you in goodies every week and $100 will get you a cake a month and an invitation to our friends and family grand opening party. Woohoo!

We hope you'll come see us when we open in June and meanwhile, enjoy Spring and give everybody you love a hug (or at least a cupcake)!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Orange Cake

Just in time for Spring, this airy sponge cake makes use of tangy orange zest and a cup of fresh-squeezed juice.

I confess, I am usually very good at remembering, or at least recording, where I find recipes or whose take on a certain ingredient has inspired me. But I cannot for the life of me pinpoint where I found this gem, except to say that I was searching one day for a springtime dessert to accompany a Spanish-themed brunch. Apparently, in the region of Valencia, this is a popular cake that typically includes the use of ground almonds. I likely chose this version because no almonds gave their lives and it made mine much easier for their absence.

The ingredients are an uncomplicated lot:

2 large navel oranges
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

I happened to have these lovely local eggs on-hand:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 or 9" round cake pan. Zest the 2 oranges and set aside, then squeeze the juice from both into a measuring cup and if necessary, add OJ or buttermilk to fill (yes, I add buttermilk to everything and this was an emergency maneuver the first time I made the recipe and it worked brilliantly).
Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, then add sugar gradually, mixing well. Add orange zest and olive oil, beat or whisk some more, add orange juice and combine all thoroughly. Next, add flour a cup at a time and mix well before adding baking powder to finish.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Seriously, do the toothpick in the center test here.
When ready, take cake out and allow to cool 10 minutes before turning out on a rack or plate, as I did. Could that be any easier?

As you can see, a few seedless black table grapes found their way into this version. And they were yummy, adding a hint of juicy sweetness to the orange.

When the cake had cooled sufficiently (okay, just enough that it didn't collapse on itself when the knife hit it), I dusted it with powdered sugar and indulged.

Just look at that golden crumb!

I say - Welcome, Spring! And the new and exciting things that sometimes blow in on March winds and April showers. I hope you'll also visit me at my new blog and project Mockingbird Cafe and Bakery.