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Citrus Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter Glaze

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Citrus Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter Glaze

This is one of my go-to cakes for when I want to make something simple, yet also insanely delicious. Both the cake batter and the glaze come together really quickly, and the joy of a glaze is that decorating the cake is as easy as pouring the glaze over the top. Voila, you're done! There is definitely a reason I've made this cake more times that I can remember. 

There is also a reason I'm choosing to share this cake with you now... it's been a pretty crazy few months in my life and this recipe is one of my stand-bys, a tried and true great recipe. The holidays hit me harder than usual this year - with a three week trip to Michigan from Thanksgiving through mid-December, a friend of my babes' visiting from Nashville for a long weekend, followed by both of our immediate families visiting Portland for the week between Christmas and New Years. There has been a whole lot of fun, very little alone time, and only the occasional meal cooked by yours truly. 

There is still one wintery weekend at Mt Hood left on the holiday schedule (it's my birthday celebration - the ultimate holiday extender!), but then I couldn't be more excited to get back in my kitchen and back to developing fun new things for all of you! 

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Now, back to this awesome cake! It adapts easily to whatever type of citrus juice you have on hand, and don't even think about skipping out on the brown butter glaze. I've omitted it before and while the cake is still delicious, it isn't nearly the same. 

Citrus Olive Oil Cake

1 cup all purpose flour 

1/2 cup ground almonds / almond flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt 

3 large eggs 

3/4 cup sugar 

1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil 

1/2 tsp vanilla 

1/4 tsp almond extract 

zest of 1 lemon or orange 

1/2 orange juice (or another citrus juice) 

1/3 cup sliced almonds 

  • Butter and flour a 9 inch round cake pan, 8 inch square cake pan, or two 6 inch round cake pans (options are the best!). 
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs just a bit then add sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Add olive oil and whisk for about 45 seconds to one minute until the mixture starts to thicken and get lighter in color. Whisk in the extracts and zest, then the juice. 
  • Add dry ingredients and whisk gently until just combined. 
  • Pour into pan (or divide equally between the two pans if you're using 6 inch), and sprinkle with sliced almonds. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. 
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then gently remove and let cool completely on a rack. 

Brown Butter Glaze

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp whole milk

1/2 tsp lemon juice

  • Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Let it bubble while occasionally swirling it in the pan until it starts to turn a golden brown color and smells nutty (aka, like heaven). Remove from heat immediately to prevent it from burning. This process of browning the butter caramelizes the milk solids and gives the butter an amazing nutty flavor. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, then slowly whisk in the butter and lemon juice. 
  • Pour over cooled cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. 
  • Optional: decorate with long strands of citrus zest or a very thin slice of citrus! 

 

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Star Anise Arborio Rice Pudding

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Star Anise Arborio Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of my ultimate comfort foods, and standing near the warm stove with a simmering pot of creamy goodness is a favorite winter activity of mine. The incredible smell of spices filling the house is, of course, an added bonus - so lets be honest with ourselves here, there is nothing bad about making a big batch of rice pudding! 

I think a lot of my nostalgia and love for rice pudding comes from a completely non-winter experience... in fact a totally tropical one! I spent some time just after college living and working in an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, and spent every lunch and dinnertime for six months sitting at a table with a group of newly admitted young boys. During these moments around the table, we ate simple Dominican classics and the boys were on their best behavior (a much needed moment of quiet in an otherwise rambunctious place!). One of those classic dishes was arroz con leche - a simple and hardly sweet version of rice pudding. Whole allspice berries and cloves were carefully set to the side of the plate as we ate our way through. 

While very few would consider a full plate of rice pudding a balanced dinner, I can't help but justify it on occasion thinking back to those meals with my house-full of sweet Dominican kids. It kept me going then, and it'll keep me going now! That said... rice pudding is much more often eaten in my house as a simple dessert or an afternoon snack these days. 

Rice Pudding Arborio Rice Star Anise Recipe

This rice pudding is made with arborio rice, which is the short grain Italian rice used to make risotto. This rice is particularly starchy, so it creates an amazing thick rice pudding if you cook it down long enough. I love how elegantly it can be served as it holds it's shape so well. Cook it a little less, and you'll have a creamier, thinner pudding! 

Rice pudding in my house is most often an indian inspired affair, cooked with whole vanilla bean and cardamom -- but I wanted to mix things up with this recipe and use what has become one of my favorite spices right now. Star anise has such a rich and distinctive flavor, it makes a perfect alternative to my traditional cardamom. Plus it is just so gosh darn pretty! 

I love the simplicity of making rice pudding, and I think that you will too! 

ingredients: 

3/4 cup arborio rice 

6 cups whole milk 

1/2 cup cane sugar 

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) 

5 whole star anise stars 

instructions: 

  • Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan, and place over medium-high heat. If you're using the vanilla extract as opposed to vanilla bean, save that to add later. 
  • Bring to a gentle simmer, then turn the heat down to about medium. You don't want it to boil, just to continue simmering very gently. 
  • Cook the mixture for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more frequently as it starts to thicken to prevent it from sticking or burning. 
  • Remove the pan from heat when it's reached your desired consistency. As you can see from the photos, I cooked mine to be very thick - this is the rice pudding I was in the mood for. You can just as easily stop the cooking a bit earlier and have a thinner pudding! Just remember that it will thicken as it cools. 
  • If you're using vanilla extract, stir it in when you remove the pan from the heat. 

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spiced apple cake with caramel

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spiced apple cake with caramel

Apple cake just might be my very definition of fall. When the apples ripen and the summer days start to cool enough that I'm overly excited about my oven all over again, it's this apple cake that I always want first. It is sweet and decadent, but also full of fruit - so I'll go ahead and say it makes a great breakfast (though it definitely won't keep you full all morning). So if you're a fan of pie for breakfast, this may just be your new go to for the fall! 

This apple cake mixes a hearty (half) whole wheat cake spiced with ginger and nutmeg with a hefty serving of apples to create a perfect fall cake.

First we gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, carefully folding them together with a rubber spatula to create a thick batter. 

Half of the batter goes into the bottom of our pan, then a thin layer of apples are placed in the middle of the cake to bring some apple richness throughout the entire cake. 

Next comes the rest of the batter and that hefty serving of apples, then your ready for the oven. Putting this many apples on our cake will keep the cake super moist (maybe event too wet in some folks minds... but I sure love a moist cake!). If you want a less moist but still absolutely amazing cake, use a bundt pan! 

Then we just need to bake it, for quite a long time, until the center is fully cooked. And voila - cake! 

I know I'm using a glass dish that differs from the suggested 8x8 size in these photos. I highly recommend you use a metal 8x8 baking dish. The cake will cook more evenly, and not have as thick of a bake line as mine did (the darker edge where the cake is touching the pan). 

But whatever you do use, the cake will be delicious, and you will rejoice!

Last but not (by a long shot) least, I couldn't help but top this apple cake with a drizzle of the easiest caramel you've ever laid your hands on. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the slow gentle process of caramelizing a hefty serving of cane sugar to create a luscious caramel... but I also understand that not everyone feels so comfortable melting sugar. If you're feeling adventurous or love making caramel, my recipe can be found buried in this lengthy recipe for brownie ice cream sandwiches (yes, I put a layer of caramel in them... because obviously brownies and ice cream wasn't enough decadence).  

This caramel I'm sharing here, on the other hand, requires basically no work and no worry. If you're having a lazy day, but also really want a helping of caramel sauce for your cake, your ice cream, or your spoon - this is it my friends. You're welcome. 

The cake recipe was adapted from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen

Apple Cake 

ingredients: 

2 large apples, cut to a small dice 

2 cups + 2 Tbsp cane sugar 

1 Tbsp cinnamon 

1 Tbsp vanilla 

1 cup vegetable oil 

4 eggs 

2 Tbsp lemon juice 

1 1/2 cups white flour 

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour 

1 Tbsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt 

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

instructions: 

  • Prepare an 8x8 square baking dish by buttering and flouring it. 
  • In a small bowl, stir together apples, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp sugar. Set aside. 
  • In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Start by whisking together eggs, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla. Once combined, add in the remaining 2 cups of sugar and whisk to combine. 
  • Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl until evenly combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all the flour clumps have been incorporated. 
  • Pour about half the batter into the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle a very sparse layer of apples over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the thin layer of apples, then cover the top with the remaining apples. 
  • Bake at 350 for about about 75 minutes, or until the center is cooked. 
  • Drizzle entire cake with the caramel, or each slice as you're serving. 

Super Simple Caramel Drizzle 

ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

pinch of salt  

instructions: 

  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine as the butter melts. 
  • Continue stirring and cooking until the mixture starts to boil lightly. Let it boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly. 
  • Remove from heat, pour into a glass container, and let cool completely before using. 

 

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