One of our goals is to share slices of life (and cake), recipes and dining experiences that one might not be able to otherwise experience for whatever reason – geography, income, trepidation about traveling, etc.
Today, Out of Abilene is taking you on another journey to New York City. Maialino is an awesome little trattoria at 2 Lexington Ave., which is about 1750 miles away from where I am right now. I’ve been jonesing for their olive oil orange cake, and I’ve lied to myself at least once a week for the past year, promising myself that I am going to recreate the experience.
Rich but subtle. Dense but not dry (in fact, it’s anything but). A crust on its top and outside walls. An interior so moist you wonder if it is injected with something or cooked with a pudding.
There is nothing I could think of that would be better with a glass of milk than a slice of this cake – unless it was perhaps a muffin-size version of it that would allow me to tell myself, “I’ll just have this one, and just this one is better than eating a whole slice.” Not to mention, a muffin gives me 360-degrees of crisp exterior.
Today, you can have both with a couple of different riffs on form (cake vs. muffin), long cook vs. short, high-temp cook and glazed or unglazed.
Maialino-inspired Olive Oil Orange Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2t kosher salt
- 1/2t baking soda
- 1/2t baking powder
- 1 1/3cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2T grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Out of Abilene Almond Brown Butter Glaze
- 1/2 cup toasted almond slices
- 3T butter
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
- 3T milk
- 1/4t almond extract
- Depending on which of my methods you are going to follow, either preheat your oven to 475° F or 350° F. The former I call the cornbread method (heat a skillet, cake pan – if it can take it, or muffin tins) until they are smoking hot and pour the room temperature batter in for a nice, crisp exterior crust. The latter temperature is just your normal pour it in the pan and bake. If you are cooking a cake, you need a 9″ cake pan that is at least two inches deep. If you are cooking muffins, you need two, 12-muffin standard trays.
- In a bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder)
- In a second bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients (olive oil, eggs, milk, orange juice and zest and Grand Marnier. I let my wet ingredients come to room temperature.
- Add the dry ingredients and combine until just mixed. Your batter should be smooth with no lumps, but you don’t want to sit and run your mixer on high and over mix.
- If you are using the cornbread method, ten minutes before you are ready to bake your cake or muffins put your cast-iron skillet or muffin tins into your 475° F preheated oven. Let them sit five minutes. Remove. Place 1T vegetable shortening in the skillet or a dot of vegetable shortening in each muffin tin. Return to oven for five minutes at which point the shortening should be at its smoke point. Remove your skillet or tins from the oven and roll/rotate them around so that the shortening hits all of their inside surfaces. Immediately pour your batter into them (for muffin tins: 3/4 full). They should sizzle and you should see an outside crust start to form. Return to the oven. Cook them for 8 minutes at 475° F and then drop your oven temp to 350° F and continue cooking for 30 minutes for the cake or 15 minutes for the muffins (or until a cake pik comes out clean). Remove. Transfer to a rack and allow them to cool for 30 minutes before removing them from their pans and then allow them to come to room temperature (about 2 hours for the cake and about another 30 minutes for the muffins) before you either eat them with a glass of milk or glaze them.
- If you are using the less-complicated, pop-it-in-the-oven method, coat non-stick muffin pans or 9″ cake pan with a thin coating of olive oil, place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the cake pan, pour in your batter and bake at 350° F. The cake should take about 1 hour before a cake tester comes out clean. Muffins take approximately 30 minutes. Allow them to cool 30 minutes before removing from their pans. Remove. Place on a rack. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving or glazing (unless you have a cup of milk handy) – approx. 2 hours for cake and another 30 minutes for muffins.
For the glaze
- Toast your almonds in a skillet on medium-high heat. Some color is good, but be careful not to over toast. Reserve.
- Heat your butter in the same skillet at a medium-high heat until it begins to change color, swirl and continue to heat as it takes on a brown color, being careful to remove it from the heat before burning it. It should have a nutty smell. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add your butter to your confectioner’s sugar and mix.
- Add 2T whole milk. You should begin to get a paste. Add a third tablespoon and you should start to get a smooth paste that isn’t quite pourable.
- Reserve for glazing or….
- I heat the glaze for about 20 seconds in a microwave or until it is extremely pourable (significantly thinner than what you started with). Ladle it on top of your cake or muffins and then top with sliced almonds.
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