Saturday, April 6, 2013

Orange Wacky Cake with Blood Orange Syrup 

I swear I didn't made up this ridiculous name. Wacky cake is a real thing. If in doubt, please consult wikipedia. 

The story goes that wacky cake was invented during World Ward II when eggs and dairy were rationed. Instead of letting Hitler spoil their culinary creativity, inventive housewives worked out a way to make cakes without using up these precious resources. The cake is basically made of flour and sugar and the raising agent is baking soda mixed with vinegar. Don't worry, the quantity of vinegar is very small and the flavor is indistinguishable. 

The reason that I made an orange cake is because several weeks back my friend Nicole and I attempted to make blood orange marmalade. We managed to mess it up somehow (probably not keeping it at the correct temperature for long enough), and what we ended up with was not marmalade but delicious orange syrup. Since then, I have been looking for uses for the vast quantities of orange syrup that I have. So far, the biggest successes have been adding a tablespoon of syrup to unsweetened coconut yogurt for breakfast, and adding a spoonful to dry sparkling wine as a kind of champagne cocktail (not for breakfast!). Nicole and I used to love eating the Orange Tofu at Long Life Vegi House on University Ave in Berkeley, which is unbelievably sweet and is basically just deep-fried tofu in marmalade sauce. I plan to try making a slightly healthier version of this delicacy at home. Watch out for a recipe in the next few weeks!

1 ½ cups all purpose flour 
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tsp orange syrup, or 2 1/2tsp marmalade dissolved in water

Grease the pan with oil. You can use a 9 inch cake pan, or you can make ten individual-sized servings in a muffin tin (as I did). 

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Measure the wet ingredients into a large measuring cup. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while stirring constantly. When the mixture is an even consistency, put it into the pan. Really. That. Simple. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes if you're making individual servings. For a whole cake, it will probably require 30-32 minutes. 

When fully baked, remove from the oven and spoon slightly less than half a teaspoon of orange syrup to each little cake. It will soak in and make the cake deliciously moist. If you don't have orange syrup, you can dissolve some marmalade with water in a pan over the stove - it will serve the same purpose. Or, if you prefer, you can wait until the cake is fully cooled, then add your favorite frosting. For this I would recommend confectioners' sugar dissolved with orange juice, drizzled over the top. Given how moist this cake is, though, it would also be perfectly yummy to eat it as it is, with no topping at all. 

Each individual-sized cake contains 220 calories, including the blood orange syrup topping. 

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