Orange Sponge Cake

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This is a grand summertime cake!  Bursting with orange flavor, simply dust this cake with powdered sugar and decorate with candied orange peel – you’ll never notice the absence of traditional frosting (which typically adds around 200 calories per piece of cake!).  This recipe gives you a great excuse to dust off the tube pan lurking in the back of one of your kitchen cabinets, and the resulting cake is pretty enough to stand out at your next outdoor party.  Enjoy a slice for me!

picture599Ingredients (serves 12)

6 eggs, whites and yolks divided

1 tablespoon grated orange zest (use an organic orange for this!)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liquor or orange picture600extract

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup portions

1 1/4 cups white flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

picture602Step 1) Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks for 5 minutes on high speed.  Add orange zest, orange juice, and Grand Marnier.  Slowly add 1 cup sugar, blending at low speed.  Gradually increase speed to medium, and blend mixture for 3 more minutes.  The mixture should be thick, and should double in volume.

Step 2) “Sprinkle and fold” flour into egg picture603yolk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.  In other words, sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the egg yolk mixture, and gently fold the egg yolk mixture over the flour using a rubber scraper.  Repeat until all flour has been added.  Do NOT over mix.

Step 3) Using a scrupulously clean mixing bowl and beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft picture604peaks form (see photo).  This will probably take 2 or 3 minutes.  Then, slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.  (see photo).

Step 4) Now we need to combine the yolk mixture and the white mixture without losing all of the “poof” we just created with the electric mixer!  To do this, gently fold 1 cup of the white mixture into the yolk picture605mixture.  Then, fold all of the yolk mixture into the white mixture.  Don’t overthink it… just combine the two mixtures as gently as possible.

Step 5) Transfer the batter into an ungreased tube pan, approximately 10 inches in diameter (“standard” size).  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for approximately 55 minutes.  The top of the picture606cake should feel springy when touched.  If you press gently with your finger and the imprint doesn’t bounce back, give the cake a few more minutes.

Step 6) Remove from oven and tip the pan over to cool.  I find that balancing the pan on a bottle (a beer bottle or a wine bottle, don’t judge) works well.  After cake has cooled completely, slowly loosen cake from picture608the sides of the pan with a butter knife and gently shake onto a serving plate.  If your cake doesn’t come out of the pan perfectly, don’t panic.  Powdered sugar and candied orange peel will hide “cake owies” very well!

Step 7) Dust, decorate, and enjoy!

About that candied orange peel… simply peel an orange using a potato peeler, to get picture607thin slices of peel without the white pith.  Add the peel to a small pan with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Simmer for 10 minutes, remove peel, and place peel on a baking sheet.  Dry peel in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, while your cake is cooling!

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