Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Orange Cake with Orange-Mascarpone Frosting and Peaches


Easter is coming! The eggs need to be colored, the lamb needs to be roasted and the desserts need to be planned, ASAP! As exciting as it is, Easter celebrations are still somewhat new to me since I did not grow up celebrating it because I’m Puerto Rican and we just don’t do anything special that day. We don’t have a special dinner, we don’t have any food associated with it, there are no eggs involved (colored or otherwise), and certainly there is no bunny to be found, unless you look for it in a stew. To this day, I’m not sure how bunnies and eggs fit into Easter, but I do know that here in the States, Easter is one happy holiday, and people are really, really happy that day. 

Since it’s so fun and cute, and I don’t really need much of an excuse to eat good food, I started celebrating it after moving to Cleveland. But I’ll admit that I barely get involved in the planning and the cooking leading to the celebrations. It’s not my holiday, and I don’t want to risk ruining it for those who love it and want to make sure they have their more traditional choices. I can relate; I know the feeling all too well. Thanksgiving is MY holiday and to be honest, I tend to disapprove of basically every turkey I don’t make myself (and some of the ones I’ve made as well). So instead of offending everyone with a “deconstructed” Easter dish, I decided to make and share a small dessert that can be eaten either before, during or after Easter. Let’s just say it’s a “spring-y” dessert. 

While I deal with my new traditions and my ‘spring-y” dessert, back home they’re our traditional celebrations should be unfolding by now. I know I said that in Puerto Rico most people don’t celebrate Easter, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything. On the contrary, they can get quite busy.  Back home, we’re all about the “Holy Week”, and its peak, Good Friday.  During Good Friday, people in my hometown gather around the main streets “downtown”, to watch the processions that circulate them, portraying the agony of Jesus and Mary, as He was on his way to be crucified. These processions feature a mix of beautifully crafted statues and real-life reenactments of some of the key moments of Jesus’ journey to the cross, the crucifixion and sometimes a bit of the resurrection.  

But that’s not all. All through the week, but especially on “Holy Thursday”, the neighborhoods have their “Via crucis”. Via crucis translate to something like “The road to the cross” and once again, it’s meant to make people reflect on Jesus’ agony, and hence, the sacrifice he was making. For these, the community members go around the neighborhood chanting and singing lamentations with a megaphone. There are 14 stops in which people read biblical passages relating Jesus’ last hours and again, Mary’s suffering. It may sound a bit morbid, but it’s actually pretty cool.  

When people are not wondering around town, they really have some time to kill. Most people get Thursday and Friday off, but many still get the traditional ALL-WEEK OFF. No work y’all! But it’s not like they can go all crazy partying because traditionally there are so many limitations regarding what you are allowed to do during Holy Week. There is no nailing, cutting, or any work-oriented activities; there is no dancing, singing or heavy drinking; and depending on the family, additional restrictions are added as well. Of course, there’s been a departure from those restrictions in recent years, especially as the non-Catholics increase in numbers, and part from many of these traditions. Overall, there’s still a strong religious buildup to Easter, but Easter day itself is very anticlimactic. You just go to church, and that’s the end of it. 

Coming back to my new-found interest in Easter, I decided to make a light, fragrant dessert that would be simple enough to make just for myself, but that would be nice enough to share with friends after the Easter dinner. I made an orange cake that is light, fluffy and spongy, and refreshing. I glazed it with an orange-mascarpone frosting that is light in flavor, without compromising texture or taste, and its freshness can’t help but reminding you of a beautiful spring morning. To balance the flavors and to garnish the cakes, I added slices of peaches (from a can, I’ll admit) to get yet another sunny and fresh flavor. I came up with the recipe using weights and ratios (to which I’ll have to dedicate a post in the future) so I’ll provide some measures by weight, and then I’ll give the conversions.

I really hope you enjoy your Easter Sunday with family and friends!

On the road shortcut

Nutritional info per serving (4 servings):
311 calories, 60 g carbs, 19 g fat, 2 g protein

Orange cakes
1 egg
2 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon orange juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
2 ounces (1/4 cup) flour
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour the bottom of 4 ramekins.

Using a handheld mixer, beat the egg and sugar together until they triple in size, about 2 minutes. Just before finishing beating the eggs, add the orange juice and the vanilla extract. Continue mixing for a few more seconds.

Combine the baking powder, salt and flour. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. 

Fold the butter into the batter. Split the batter into 4 ramekins and bake at 350F until a toothpick comes clean after inserting it in the center of the cake (about 20 minutes). Let them cool completely, and remove from the ramekins.

Orange-Mascarpone Frosting
2 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 ounces (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
½ teaspoon orange extract
6 slices of canned peaches, sliced in half lengthwise

Beat the mascarpone, powdered sugar and orange extract together until creamy, about 2 minutes. 

Split the frosting between the 4 cakes, and spread. Top with the sliced peaches.

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