This cake is purely JB's fault. I intended to make something other than cake for this week, since we had so many cakes last week, but I've had this flavor combination stuck in my head ever since JB mentioned it. When I made the Orange Chocolate Chunk Bundt Cake last week I knew that JB probably wouldn't like it because of the fruit and chocolate combination, and he didn't. I have to admit, it wasn't my favorite either -- I don't hate the fruit/chocolate combo, but it doesn't do much for me.
Actually, of all the cakes I made last week, the Orange Chocolate Cake seemed to be the one that people didn't really even consider for favorites. JB and Mira both voted for the Irish Whiskey Cake, Ben and Chris thought the Oreo Cake was the best, and a coworker (Michelle), Lauren, and I, all voted for the Elvis Cake as our favorite. (Candy? Want to weigh in on this?) So, despite Smitten Kitchen's raves about this cake, the orange chocolate cake will probably not be repeated here... however... JB went ahead and tried a piece of the dreaded fruit/chocolate combination and suggested that I use the same cake to make an Orange Almond Cake with an Orange Powdered Sugar Glaze... I've had that combination stuck in my head ever since.
So, here it is.
I didn't change the cake recipe much -- but I did change it a bit. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of all purpose flour -- I used 2 cups of all purpose and 1 cup of cake flour, hoping to get a softer, moister cake -- not that the first one was dense or dry... Other than that I just subbed two cups of toasted slivered almonds for the chocolate and added a 1/4 tsp of almond extract. I still used the orange simple syrup after the cake came out of the oven to help prevent it from drying out. The chocolate glaze went right out the window and I made my own orange glaze. A cup of powdered sugar, two tbsp of melted butter, 1 tbsp of orange liquor (Patron Citron), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1-3 tsps milk to get the consistency I wanted. And just like that, a perfectly good Orange Chocolate Cake becomes and Orange Almond Cake. Gotta love that. :)
Now, the verdict... I like the Orange Almond combo far better than the Orange Chocolate combo, so this wins between those two hands down. This is a good cake, I definitely like it, but I still think the Elvis Cake wins for my favorite recent cake. The cake is nice and moist, with a distinct orange flavor which is cut by the crunch and slight bitterness of toasted almonds. I cut the cake while it was still too warm which caused the crumb to fall apart a bit. We'll see how it looks and cuts when it cools completely, but I hope it firms up some. I have a hunch I should have just stuck with all-purpose flour rather than experimenting by adding some cake flour. *shrug* we'll see.
Orange Almond Cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups slivered toasted almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps melted butter
1 tbsp orange liquor
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsps milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, almond extract and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold in the almonds. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
5. For the glaze: Mix everything except the milk in a small bowl. Add milk 1 tsp at a time until you get the consistency you want. Drizzle over the top of the cake.