I often bake for our farmhouse guests when we are in Umbria during our yearly six month stay, but I rarely bake much when we are stateside. My husband and I are not dessert eaters, so unless I have family visiting, or I am entertaining guests, I rarely get the urge to bake a cake. I have been thoroughly enjoying the availability of blood oranges the past month or two although at times, I find myself with too many on hand. After buying a few too many blood oranges a few weeks ago, I decided to bake a snack cake using whole blood oranges and spelt flour instead of regular all-purpose flour to ensure it had some nutritional value. My husband is not a fan of icing in any description, so I simply topped this cake with powdered sugar, but a glaze made from blood orange juice and powdered sugar would be wonderful on this cake as well. You could use either a bundt pan or a 9 inch springform pan as I have. This cake was very moist, fragrant, and not too sweet and we thoroughly enjoyed snacking on between meals, or for breakfast with our morning cappuccino. Not usually a fan of anything sweet, my husband said this cake was a real keeper, so I know I’ll be making it often for him when blood oranges are in season.
If you are not familiar with blood oranges, they are a variety of orange that has a crimson, (blood-colored) flesh. The fruit is usually the same size as an average orange, although the ones I recently bought are quite small. The dark flesh color of this unique variety of orange is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon to citrus fruits. The dark red flesh develops its color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night, which sometimes is reflected on the exterior of the rind as well. If you cannot find blood oranges, you can substitute regular oranges instead.
Spelt, (or farro) is an ancient grain with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor, and you can use spelt flour as a substitute for wheat or white flour when baking. Because spelt flour contains does contain gluten, you are less likely to compromise the texture of baked goods although the combination of high fiber and low, fragile gluten content in spelt makes this grain much easier to digest than modern, common wheat flour. Depending on the recipe, I use both light (white) and whole grain spelt flour for baking my breads and desserts. Spelt flour is high in fiber, and rich in niacin, zinc, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and selenium, making it a much healthier option than plain all-purpose flour.
Deborah Mele 2015
- 4 Blood Oranges, Cut Into Pieces, Seeds Discarded
- 3/4 Cup Light Buttermilk, Divided
- 3 Cups Light or Whole Grain Spelt Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary
- 2 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Butter At Room Temperature
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 4 Large Eggs At Room Temperature
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9-inch bundt or springform pan.
- Place the orange pieces in a food processor with 1/4 cup of buttermilk and pulse until blended.
- In one bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and rosemary.
- In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the sugar, olive oil, and butter until blended.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each, then add the remaining buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- Using low speed, add half the blood orange mixture, then half the flour mixture.
- Finally, add the rest of the blood oranges and flour mixture, beating just until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan, allowing the cake to cool completely.
- Once cool, top with cake with powdered sugar and enjoy.