- Unsalted butter, for the pan
- 2 navel oranges or thin-skinned juice oranges, such as Valencia
- 2 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 6 Tbsp. California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. fleur de sel
- Orange Glaze (see below)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Slice the bottoms and the tops off the oranges (where the rind is the thickest) and quarter the oranges. Plunge the orange, rind and all, into the water, allow the water to return to a boil, remove, and drain. Repeat the process two more times. This blanching will remove the bitterness from the orange rind.
Place the oranges in a pot filled with 1 quart fresh water and 1 cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then let simmer until the rind is softened and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. At this point, the oranges can be cooled and kept in a container, in the syrup, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks before you proceed with the recipe.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and set aside.
Pull the prepared oranges from the syrup with a slotted spoon, and discard any remaining seeds in the cooked orange segments. Cut the oranges into chunks. Place them, rind and all, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment (discard the syrup), and pulse until the oranges form a puree. The puree will be slightly chunky and not perfectly smooth, and this is okay.
Add the eggs, the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, the flour mixture, and the vanilla extract to the food processor. Pulse until well blended.
Add the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil last and pulse until thoroughly blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on the center rack until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then slide a thin knife or offset spatula around the sides of the pan and turn it over to unmold the cake onto a plate, then flip the cake onto a wire rack.
Let cool thoroughly on the rack, at least 30 to 40 minutes more, and pour orange glaze over the cake when cool. Sprinkle the fleur de sel over the cake at the last minute.
While the cake cools, combine the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Using a skewer or long thin knife, prick deep holes all over the surface of the cake. Pour half the glaze over the cake, letting it seep into the holes. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes more. Pour the remaining glaze over the cake and let set for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
Chef's Note: This is a variation on a Sicilian classic in which oranges are preserved by simmering with a small amount of sugar, then blended right into the cake batter.
The candied oranges and olive oil make the cake particularly moist, and the flaky crystals of fleur de sel accentuate the intense citrus flavor. The orange glaze helps keep the cake moist for several days.
Recipe courtesy of The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark (W. W. Norton & Co., 2010)