This year for Christmas I got a cookbook from my brother-in-law.  Smart man.  It’s one from the Barefoot Contessa.  I have always loved watching her on the food network and jotting down her recipes, but you can’t find those recipes online.  You gotta get the book.  So, I haven’t made too much from her, but now I’ve got the book….so you might be seeing a few in the near future.

The first one is a gooder.  I have made it several times already and everyone who has had it really liked it.  It sure doesn’t last long on the table.  Dutch etiquette is the reason I have made this so many times.  Here’s the rule: if someone is dropping by or coming over, tea and/or coffee and something to nibble on are a must.  It is considered rude not to have something to share.  Since I don’t love the preservatives in the cakes sold at the grocery store, I try to always bake something of my own.

You wouldn’t believe the aisle of cakes at the supermarket here.  It is shelf over shelf of twinkie-like confections.  Super moist pound cakes, frosted individual cakes, pastry filled with almond paste, waffles and finger cookies.  It is an aisle devoted solely to the rule stated above.  Funny how our etiquettes infiltrate the grocery store.  I heard the reason that not too much baking goes on here is because it used to be considered bad taste to serve your own baking.  Something bought was the way to show your guests that you care.  I don’t know if that is still the reason or if it is just habit now.  Anyways,  I actually feel the exact opposite.  Something fresh from the oven is like a warm hug for guests – saying, “Thanks for coming over!

Anyways, if you are having friends over for a chat or you are out visiting someone in their home, it is a pretty nice “rule” to follow.  Trust me – people will definitely appreciate this super moist cake if it is lightly sitting on a plate next to their tea.

Blood Orange Yogurt Cake – adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ina Garten published this recipe using lemons instead of blood oranges.  I had a net-full of blood oranges and switched it up using them instead.  I must say that I preferred the tartness of the lemons to the sweetness of the blood oranges, but I am sure you could make this with any citrus you have on hand and it would be delicious.  She also pours on a glaze, but I omitted it since I think the cake can stand alone without any added sweetness.

1.5 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup sugar (for the syrup)

3 large eggs

2 tsp grated blood orange zest (2 blood oranges)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the oranges you zested)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit (180 celcius).  Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and flouring it.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, orange zest and vanilla.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.  Then add the oil and fold in with a rubber spatula.  At first it will look like there is no way to combine the two, but keep folding and the batter will combine and be a beautiful shiny pale yellow colour.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

While the cake is in the oven, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the 1/3 cup freshly squeezed juice in a sauce pan.  Warm it on the stove until the sugar is all dissolved.  Let cool.  This is your syrup.

When the cake is out of the oven, let it rest for a good 10 minutes.  While it is still warm, run a knife along the edges and tip it out gently onto a plate.  I poked the top with a skewer but Ina says you don’t need to.  Drizzle the syrup over the top of the cake.  Do it slowly so that it will leak into the cake and not just flow over it.  Let it sit in the juices to soak up all the goodness.  Serve by itself or with whipped or iced cream.

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