From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...My palate favors barely sweet European-style pastries, so, when I saw this recipe on the blog, Just A Smidgen, I knew I had to give it a try. I already have several recipes for grape cakes and, collectively, they've all claimed places on my list of family favorites. While these cakes are delicious, they are probably not meant for mass consumption. If you take a quick glance at the ingredient's list, the quantity of olive oil that's used in this recipe is an indicator of just how different this cake truly is. It also calls for another strong and flavorful ingredient called orange blossom water. Most of you will not be able to find it in your local markets, but it is available on-line and this article will do a great job of explaining just what it is. It is difficult to find a workable substitute, but, in a pinch, a 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice will come close enough. I love the way French and North African flavors are combined in this recipe. The cake is boldly flavored, but remains sweet enough to serve for dessert or tea. Those with more sophisticated tastes, and those whose palates are simply tired of ordinary desserts, will love the bright bold flavors of this delightful tea cake. I've made it 3 times now, twice without incident. Obviously, I have a caution to share with you. It is tricky to tell when this cake is done and if you pull it from the oven before its time, you'll have an unmistakeable wet streak in the middle of your cake. Following my first less than stellar attempt, I increased the baking time by 15 minutes and had fantastic results. I love the blend of flavors in this cake and I'll be making it often. I hope you will give it a try. It is a wonderful cake for the slightly adventurous. Here's the recipe.
Orange Blossom Tea-Cake with Grapes and Olive Oil...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Barbara Bamber and Laura Calder
5 egg, separated
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange zest only
1-1/2 teaspoons orange blossom water
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 ounces seedless red grapes
3 tablespoons warm honey
2 tablespoons coarse baker's sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
coarse white sprinkling sugar and regular sugar
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with a little olive oil then line with parchment paper.
2) Gently crushed dried green cardamom pods with a rolling-pin to remove black seeds inside. Discard outer pod. Continue crushing pods until you have 1 teaspoon of black cardamom seeds.
3) Beat egg yolks and sugar until sugar dissolves and thick, pale ribbons of batter form. Mix in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, orange zest and orange blossom water. Add cardamom seeds to batter.
4) Beat egg whites and salt in another bowl until stiff peaks are formed.
5) Sift cake flour into another bowl,
6) Add flour to egg yolk batter. Then gently fold in beaten egg whites, taking care not to deflate egg whites. Fold in half of the grapes.
7) Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, then open oven and scatter remaining grapes over top. Using your finger, gently press the grapes to partially submerge them into cake. Leave some more exposed than others. Close oven door and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes or until a skewer poked in middle of cake comes out clean.
8) Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cook. Leave the cake in springform pan and gently brush warm, spreadable honey over top. Sprinkle coarse baker's sugar over top and finish with a dusting of regular sugar. Allow cake to cool completely in springform pan, then gently remove and transfer to a cake plate. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
(adapted from French Taste, by Laura Calder)
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