On the spectrum of fruits that I enjoy, oranges come somewhere in the middle. They are nowhere near the top with summer berries and mangoes, but I wouldn’t put them on the bottom with honeydew and cantaloupe either (can we talk about how disappointing restaurant fruit salads are when they are filled with melons??). It’s not that oranges are not tasty; it’s just that they’re not always consistent. Plus, let’s be honest, they just seem far too labor intensive to eat when the flavor is hit or miss.
That is until I discovered honeybell oranges. They are the one and only exception when it comes to oranges. Every year, right in the dead of winter, my parents send us a carton of honeybell oranges. These oranges are only available for a short time during the year, but are seriously the juiciest, most flavorful oranges that I have ever encountered. For someone who is typically so blasé about oranges and thinks that they are just mediocre in the fruit chain, the discovery of honeybell oranges was a very big deal.
This year, I may have expressed more excitement than usual because my parents did not think that 4 cartons of oranges would satisfy my need. They sent us EIGHT cartons of oranges – I was left with NINETY-SIX oranges! Huge, juicy, can’t-eat-more-than-one-at-a-time oranges!
After my initial shock, denial and disbelief, I gathered myself together, found space for the oranges in my apartment, and decided that this is a very good thing. Instead of just using the oranges for fresh-squeezed juice in the morning, as a daily snack in the afternoon and as a replacement for milk in my oatmeal (have you ever tried that? fruity and divine – try it), I realized that I could use these incredibly flavorful oranges in my baking. I found a cake that used the entire orange, skin and all (no peeling involved!). It was moist, light, and incredibly orange-y. And in my unintentional effort to post gluten-free desserts, here’s one more for the list!
Whole Orange Cake (recipe from Scandi Foodie)
I added mini chocolate chips to the cake batter because I truly believe that the orange/chocolate combo is one of the best, but feel free to leave it plain, or add nuts, perhaps. Also, I was nervous that the bits of orange peel would leave a slight bitter taste. It did. Not unpleasantly, but it was there in that marmalade kind of way. But if you happen to plan in advance, this is one of those cakes that develops more flavor as it sits, and will lose any of that even slight bitter taste.
1 cup sugar
3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips, mixed with 1 tbsp. flour (gluten-free or otherwise)
Wash the oranges, place them in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, then return to pan, cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drain and chop the oranges discarding any seeds.
Place the oranges in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar until thick and pale. Add the orange, almond meal, and baking powder and fold until just combined. Add the chocolate chips/flour mixture and fold in. Pour into a greased, 9 inch round or springform pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.