This is a variation on a perennial favorite: lemon and poppy seed tea cake. The inclusion of a whole orange lends complexity and intense moisture.
Make Ahead: Wrap well and store at room temperature for 2 days, or wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days. The cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 weeks; defrost (wrapped) at room temperature.
Yield: Makes one 9-inch loaf
- For the cake
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the loaf pan
- 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the loaf pan
- 1 medium Valencia or navel orange, washed well (do not use a juice orange)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- For the glaze
- Juice of 1/2 orange (2 tablespoons)
- Juice from 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup sugar
For the cake: Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Use butter to lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, then dust with flour, shaking out any excess (or spray with bakers' spray).
Use a sharp knife to de-stem the orange, then cut the fruit (skin-on) into 8 equal sections. Place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Puree until fairly smooth; stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, until smooth, then add the orange pulp mixture and melted butter; whisk to combine.
Whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of flour, the baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a separate bowl; sprinkle over the orange mixture and use a flexible spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan; bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack (in the pan) and cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Place the cake on the rack for glazing; set a rimmed baking sheet or large plate directly under cake on the rack.
While the cake is baking, make the glaze: Combine the citrus juices and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. After the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze all over the warm cake. Cool the cake completely before slicing or storing.
VARIATION: Use 1 1/2 lemons instead of the whole orange and an additional 2 tablespoons sugar in the batter. For a lemon glaze: Combine 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1/4 cup sugar; cook as directed above.
Adapted from "The Sweet Melissa Baking Book," by Melissa Murphy (Viking Studio, 2008).
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.