At this time of the year, even in climate blessed California, we are scouring the markets for fruit offerings other than apples and oranges. Eagerly awaiting for peaches and strawberries, we are nonetheless stuck with apples and oranges, unless we settle for fruit shipped from South America, a guarantee of blandness.
So I have been busy with the last of the blood oranges, a favorite of mine, probably because they remind me of my mom’s lovingly hand pressed juice every time I had a cold as a child. It was her panacea for sore throats and the flu: arguable but tasty.
My first project was a marmalade sticky cake, that English staple that is usually a bit too sweet for my tastes, which I made it with the bitterest marmalade I could find. Delicious.
Then my friend Marie, on one of our weekly walks, mentioned a blood orange and Campari cake: I was all ears – a Campari cake?? Marie had already mentioned the cookbook of the London restaurant Polpo, a name that kept on cropping up in various blogs I follow.
Polpo specializes in Venetian food, or its take of it, and this Campari cake is a bit of a stretch: I have never seen it served anywhere in Venice but, at its base, are semolina and no leavening agents, two traits of many Venetian desserts.
I was slightly skeptical but how could we pass up this opportunity here at C&S of all places? The cake in itself is modest but the Campari and orange glaze elevates it to uber-delicious status, especially if your palate, like mine, is not a fan of very sweet desserts. It’s definitely a grown-up cake eve if the bitterness of the Campari is tamed by quite a bit of sugar.
I loved it especially the day it was made while Marie preferred it the day after. The original recipe calls for a pretty short and unrealistic baking time that I increased by nearly half. The recipe that follows is very close to the original but, when I made it, I halved the ingredients as it’s just two of us here at home and there is only so much cake we can take without scaring our jeans to the back of the closet. If it’s a small cake you want, just do as I did and bake it in a smaller vessel.
Ingredients – serves 12
8 blood oranges
350 g Greek yogurt
600 g sugar – divided
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250 g butter, melted and cooled
350 g fine semolina
100 g ground almonds
100 ml Campari
- Preheat the oven to 170C/350F.
- Grate the zest of 4 oranges and juice all of them. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bow, mix the yogurt, 300 g sugar, zest and eggs. Stir in the cold butter. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour in a greased 23 cm (10″) baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched (or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out dry). Depending on your oven, it can take up to an hour.
- While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Put the juice, remaining 300 g sugar and the Campari in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let simmer until reduced by nearly half. You should have a very thick syrup.
- Unmold the cake while still a little bit warm (but not hot) and prick the surface with a toothpick. Pour half the glaze over it and let sit until completely absorbed. Repeat with the remaining glaze. You might want to keep a bit aside to smear on top of the cake prior to serving to make the most of the amazing color!.
Images by Yosi Pozeilov Phography and C&S