Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spanish Saffron Orange Cake/The Sunshine Cake.

Since the last post on the blog (technically) wasn't dessert, I'm morally obliged to post one. Stat.

This dessert has neither butter nor chocolate in it. Before you go X-ing any Windows, hear me out. It's pretty darned good, and I have it on self-proclaimed excellent authority.

My love for the Mediterranean/Middle-East has grown exponentially over the years. Even though the closest I've got to either place are childhood trips to Paris and shopping/religious visits to the UAE/Saudi Arabia. The fear of sounding like a person who wants to go to "Swiss" for their honeymoon or whatever, keeps me from raving too much about Marrakesh and Mykonos. Discovery Travel & Living has completely done an Inception on my limited brain-space.

It's not just for the food (food is just 90% of the reason). The language, culture, people, smells and overall beauty beckons. And I'm fairly certain MSF (Doctors-Without-Borders) does not post you there, thanks to the lack of Multi Drug Resistant-TB cases and the like.. So I'll have to put these plans on hold until I turn 50 (average age at which a doctor pays off her med-school loans) or when my HLA-typing matches that of an uraemic millionaire (on a serious note, dodgy organ donations for profit is a cruel, unethical act).

So until the day I get to Greece or Turkey, I'll just cook up things with olive oil and chickpeas and plonk myself in front of a foreign film. "A Separation" was a movie I watched recently (yes, I succumb to Oscar buzz) and absolutely loved.

Between the ages of 12 and 17, I baked nothing but chocolate cake. I didn't even like eating anything other than chocolate cake. Until my aunt requested I make something other than "karuppu kokka cake". I made her an Irish Tea Cake she still remembers and mentions at many (and there are many) family gatherings. Since then, I've gone on to bake with everything from carrots to coconut to pumpkin.

The one I'm putting up today is a healthy, light cake you'd love with your morning cuppa.

Make it and one of the following scenarios will happen to you:-

Your mum would proudly send some over to the neighbours (instead of saying "cake again? Cook 'real' food"). Your aunt will request the recipe, thrice. Your cousins/friends would ask for thirds (especially if it's smothered with enough cream and jello). Your grandmother would reminisce about the good old days and since it's not horribly-unhealthy, you make two halfhearted attempts to remind her of glycemic control and stop. The New Family will call you at midnight and thank you whilst you pretend you just rustled it up in your sleep. It's a winner.

Or you can just drink the orange and saffron-scented batter and live fattily happily ever after. It's the blessed truth.

Spanish Saffron Orange Cake:
(Recipe Source: The Greystone  Bakery Cookbook)


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract/essence
5 Tablespoons powdered sugar or honey
a pinch of saffron
1 tsp powdered cardamom (from 6-7 elaichi pods)
1 tbsp hot milk


Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, 375 degrees F.
If you're using a smaller pan, halve the recipe or bake in two batches.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground cardamom.

Add half the saffron to it to the milk in a small cup and keep aside, letting the saffron infuse into it.

Horrendously expensive Spanish Saffron. You can use much lesser and get away with it.

In a big bowl, mix together the orange zest and granulated sugar.

Rub it all in, until the sugar is tinted orange and the essential oils of the zest flavour the sugar.

Add the eggs to the bowl with the sugar and beat until the mix is thick and pale yellow.  Add the yogurt, oil, 2 Tablespoon of orange juice, saffron milk and vanilla essence.  Stir well to combine.  Fold in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (much lesser baking time if you halve the recipe), or until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted near the center.

Place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool.  Run a knife around the edges of the cake, separating it from the pan. Turn it out and cool completely.

To make the glaze:

Sorry for the horrid picture. My spatial orientation gets out of whack around hot sugar.
In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining orange juice, remaining saffron and honey/sugar. Heat over medium until it comes to a boil and then turn the heat to Low/Sim. Once it forms a syrup (around 10 minutes), take it off the heat. Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick. Pour the warm glaze over the cool cake.

This cake apparently keeps well, when wrapped well, for around 2 days. I can't promise that in Madras (heat) or in my household (gluttony).

If you're giving away the cake to someone, always bake a small portion in a cupcake liner, just so you know it does not taste horrendous. You can use pretty cupcake liners, if you have kickass friends like Anisha L!

Serve the way your heart chooses. Especially if you're like me and can't plate food beautifully.

Sprinkle some more powdered sugar on top, if you like to keep it simple.

 I made a "creme Anglaise" with Foster-Clark's custard powder and added a pinch of saffron and half a cup of blanched and chopped pistachios and almonds to it.

You can elevate it with a few fresh orange segments or raspberry/strawberry flavoured jelly/Jell-O. MMM.

I'm going to call this The Sunshine Cake because the actual name is a little long and snobby (it can get away with the pishposh 'tude, mind you). This might even wipe out all negative connotations Sunshine has, thanks to the Merciless May Madras Heat.


  1. Good god. This looks and sounds heavenly. I'm going to watch Separation and A Dangerous Method tonight or over the course of the week. Won't you make me some sunshine heaven cake so I can enjoy them?

    It looks rich and fairly simple. Not the custard and jelly part. That's just when the queen visits you. Not on a regular day!

    I'm going to pick 5 recipes and make you make them for me each time I visit. That's all. Not questions. You HAVE to.

    Screw saving lives with a Scalpel. You can with a Spatula too!

  2. Your mum LOVED it. Thasbeeh had seconds and Fawaz had thirds! You must make it NOW.

    And I'm forever searching for people to cook for... people who will sing my praises, no matter what, that is. ;)