His niece, her husband and their lovely daughters were visiting from Tennessee. It was fun to catch up with them and what is happening in their lives, plus we took the opportunity to join them in exploring the new Natural History building, including the cute penguins and the living roof (covered with regional drought tolerant plants). We also had the treat of seeing Sarah, Straight Shooter Man, and Sweetie's sister and her charming husband (who makes a superb cup of coffee).
Since this was a triple birthday celebration I brought a cake. Since the cake had to sit in the trunk of the car for a while, buttercream and chocolate and such were not an option. It helped that I had a request for something light and orange flavored.
Marion Cunningham had the perfect recipe in her book The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. For years I didn't have a plain tube pan since I never make angel food cakes, but a few months ago I found one at a thrift store for $1. It even has a removable bottom and those cute little "feet" for cooling the cake upside down.
With a great recipe and the right pan, the rest is easy. Eggs are separated, orange zest shaved off the oranges with my trusty microplane grater, oranges juiced and the juice strained through a fine mesh strainer, flour measured and sifted twice with salt, some of the sugar put in a bowl and half the zest rubbed into the sugar ( a trick from Dorie Greenspan), and then the fun begins with the whites beaten with some of the the sugar until firm but still a bit droopy.
In another bowl the yolks get beaten until lemon colored, then the rest of the zest and the juice is added and sugar and zested sugar. I used a hand whisk to stir the sifted drifts of flour, a little at a time, into the yolks, then switched back to the machine whisk to add the first part of the beaten whites. The last part is folding in the rest of the whites with a spatula, down the center, to the bottom, up the side, then turn the bowl a bit, repeat, repeat, repeat just until the whites combine with the batter but are still full of air. The air helps it to rise...see below...it rose pretty well!
Fresh Orange Sponge Cake
The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites (about 8)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons grated orange rind (orange part – zest only), divided
1/3 cup egg yolks (about 6)
1/3 cup strained freshly squeezed orange juice
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)
Have all ingredients at room temperature!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Take ¼ cup of the sugar and put into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the zest and rub them together with your fingers until thoroughly combined.
Combine the flour and salt and sift them together twice; set aside. Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat until foamy. Gradually add ½ cup of the sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but moist, and stand in peaks that droop slightly when the beater is lifted.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they have thickened slightly, then slowly add the remaining ½ cup sugar and the sugar-zest combo, and continue beating until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Add the remaining orange rind and the orange juice and blend well.
Sift the flour over the yolk mixture, and stir gently until smooth, with no drifts of flour visible. (I used a hand held whisk and sifted in some flour, whisked it gently, some more flour, whisked it gently, and so on instead of putting all the flour in at once.)
Gently stir one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter. (I used the whisk attachment and the stand mixer, only mixing until the whites were barely into the batter. Then I took the bowl away from the mixer and used a silicon spatula to finish folding in the whites.) Pour the remaining whites on top, and fold them into the yolk mixture, cutting down in the center with the spatula, taking it to the bottom and up the side of the bowl, then turning the bowl a bit and repeating until smooth and blended.
Spread the batter evenly in an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a straw inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and invert it. If it has little feet, invert onto those. If not, invert over a wine bottle or similar bottle with a thin neck.
Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the Orange Glaze. Let glaze harden before serving. Marvelous with fresh berries.
1 1/3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange rind (orange part – zest only)
Put the sugar in a medium bowl. Add the orange juice and zest and stir briskly until smooth and well blended. Pour or spoon over the cake once it is cool. (I poured, using a spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake and letting it drip down the sides.)