Olive Oil Cake with Persimmons

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For my birthday last year, my friend and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant in Brooklyn called Lillia. It was 11pm at night, we had ordered two Americanos and a slice of olive oil cake served with whipped cream and fresh persimmons. I still remember the taste of that wonderful cake because not only was it a fond memory, but I was also intrigued by the simplicity of the dessert. It wasn’t fancy at all and tasted like a homemade cake my mom would do – except it had an unexpected hint of olive oil and my favorite fall fruit of all time. I’ve made a couple versions of olive oil cakes since but none of them come close to this fantastic recipe.

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Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes one 9″ (23cm) cake

300ml (1¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
250g (1 cup +2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar; plus more for pan and finishing touch
240g (2 cups) cake flour*
28g (⅓ cup) almond flour or fine-grind cornmeal (I used almond flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
60ml (¼ cup) amaretto, Grand Marnier, or other liqueur
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
60ml (¼ cup) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 small eggs, at room temperature

*Substitute cake flour by sifting together three times 238g (1+3/4 cups) all-purpose flour and 24g (1/4 cup) cornstarch.

Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Drizzle bottom and sides of pan with detachable bottom with oil and use your fingers to coat. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and smooth to eliminate air bubbles; coat parchment with more oil. Generously sprinkle pan with sugar and tilt to coat in an even layer; tap out excess (do not skip this step!). Whisk cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine and eliminate any lumps. Stir together liquor, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.

Using an electric mixer on high speed (use whisk attachment if working with a stand mixer), beat eggs, lemon zest, and 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until mixture is very light, thick, pale, and falls off the whisk or beaters in a slowly dissolving ribbon, about 3 minutes if using a stand mixer and about 5 minutes if using a hand mixer. With mixer still on high speed, gradually stream in 1¼ cups oil and beat until incorporated and mixture is even thicker. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with amaretto mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fold batter several times with a large rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of bowl. Gently scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with more sugar.

Place cake in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 350°F (176°C). Bake until top is golden brown, center is firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edges of cake and remove ring from pan. Slide cake onto rack and let cool completely. For the best flavor and texture, wrap cake in plastic and let sit at room temperature at least a day before serving.

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Orange Bundt Cake

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Today marks the one year anniversary of Brownie Box! I still remember how excited I was to write my first blog post about my favorite brownie recipe (I still feel that way before publishing new posts). With 20 posts, 25,715 total blog views, and 227 followers on Facebook, I’m really looking forward to start a new chapter in my “baking diary”. The most popular post this year is the Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe with almost 4,000 views! I want to thank my friends and the amazing baking community for trying out my recipes and encouraging me to keep baking. I also want to thank my wonderful mom who’s always supporting me every step of the way – she’s my number one fan!

In the past year I:
– celebrated my 23rd birthday
– moved to New York City
– landed a full time job at Ralph Lauren
– ran my first 5k
– fell in love with Pilates (hey new body!)
– perfected a flourless chocolate cake recipe – post coming up soon!
– learned how to bake delicious Arabic Sweets

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To celebrate this occasion I baked a classic family recipe: orange bundt cake. Sometimes I can’t stand the sight of nutella, cream cheese frosting, or chocolate cupcakes. But this cake is so light, moist, and zesty that you never get bored of it and almost always end up having a second or third piece. I also wanted to try out the new bundt cake pan that I bought a few months ago.

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The cake had a beautiful fluted decorative shape but it rounded at the top – so it was not flat when flipped. You can always trim the cake at the bottom to level it, but I really liked its shape that way. My friend told me it looks like a giant doughnut. I was really amused 🙂

Ingredients:
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
• 1 cup fresh orange juice
• 1 tablespoon orange zest
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 2 ½ cups flour
• 2 tablespoons baking powder
• pinch of salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
2. Brush a 24 cm/9 inch bundt cake pan with melted butter and dust it with flour (to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan).
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed then slowly pour in the granulated sugar.
4. Keep beating for 3-5 minutes until the mixture doubles in volume.
5. Add the orange juice, orange zest, and vegetable oil and mix with spatula until just combined.
6. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the to the egg mixture and mix with spatula until just combined.
7. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
8. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
9. Dust cake with powdered sugar before serving.

Moist Orange and Lemon Syrup Cupcakes

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This is my favorite Orange and Lemon Syrup Cupcake recipe. It’s light, fluffy, incredibly moist, and bursting with citrus taste. It’s not topped with frosting, so it’s very light and not too sweet. The zest is a very important ingredient because it gives a wonderful flavor: using a grater, just scrape the outer colored skin of the orange and lemon (don’t grate the white part because it has a bitter taste).

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It is a very easy recipe, it took me less than an hour to do these cupcakes. Seriously, you just need to mix all the ingredients together, fill the cupcake liners with the mixture, then make simple syrup for the baked cupcakes. So if you’re too lazy to work in the kitchen or simply don’t have time to whip up something yummy and homemade, this is the perfect recipe.

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I was really surprised at how moist and fluffy they are. At first I was skeptical about pouring a lot of syrup on the cupcakes because I was afraid that they will turn out too sweet. But it actually enhanced the orange lemon flavor and gave the cakes a super tender and light texture.

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Bon Appetit 🙂

Ingredients: (adapted from the book Cupcakes, a fine selection of sweet treats)
125 g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and chopped
230 g (8 1/2 oz , 1 cup) caster sugar, superfine
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (1 big lemon)
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (1 big orange)
3 large eggs, room temperature
125 ml (4 fl oz, 1/2 cup) milk
185 g (6 1/2 oz, 1+1/2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted (or check this substitute)

Lemon Syrup
100 ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) water
115 g (4 1/4 oz, 1/2 cup) caster sugar, superfine
Zest of 1 lemon, thinly sliced (or grated)
Zest of 1 orange, thinly sliced (or grated)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas 4)
2. Line 18 muffin holes with paper cases.
3. Place the butter, sugar, and lemon and orange zests in a saucepan
4. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved
5. Transfer to a large bowl
6. Add the eggs, milk and flour and beat with electric beaters until just combined (I used a wooden spoon instead)
7. Divide the mixture evenly among the case.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake
9. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool
10. To make the lemon syrup, place the water and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved
11. Add the lemon and orange zests, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionnally or until golden and syrupy.
12. Strain the syrup, pour over a little of the syrup on each cake (You can also decorate with some reserved strips of zest).