Saturday, June 15, 2013

Austrian Orange Cake

I was recently sent a copy of Austrian Desserts to review, and I had Tim pick out the first recipe to try - a cake full of fresh oranges and slathered in milk chocolate frosting.  First, though, my general impressions of this cookbook.  On the one hand, this cookbook is not for beginners - the recipes don't include a lot of guidelines as to how the batter should look at various stages, there are often unusual ingredients that you'll have to search out or substitute, and details like pan sizes are not always included.  That said, the recipes are really unique and different from what you'll find in an American cookbook.  So, if you want to try out a new dessert cuisine and you're willing and able to do a little tinkering to get the recipes right, I think this cookbook would be a good choice.

So, how was this orange cake?  Interesting is the best way I could describe it - it was definitely tasty, and we had no problem finishing it all, but I don't know if I'd make it again, at least as written.  The recipe contains lots of eggs and very little flour, and not too surprisingly, that means it baked up into something that was sort of a cross between a cake and a sweet omelette.  I would have preferred a more tender crumb, but the inclusion of lots of fresh oranges was great - they were juicy and really flavorful.  The frosting was also a little off - it was super creamy and chocolate-y, but contained too much alcohol.  I will absolutely be making this frosting again because it was easy and really delicious before adding the Cointreau, but I'd start with maybe a tablespoon of liqueur and add more to taste.

Austrian Orange Cake (adapted from Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies)
Makes an 8-inch round cake

6.5 ounces (180 g) marzipan paste
2 T water
5 eggs
100 g confectioner’s sugar
70 g flour
25 g cornstarch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 T butter
Zest of 2 oranges
2 oranges + flour
2 T plus 2 tsp Cointreau

For the frosting:
100 g milk chocolate
50 g dark chocolate
7 T butter, at room temperature
35 g Cointreau [next time, I'd use much less - maybe start with a tablespoon and then taste]

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch springform pan.
2. Place the marzipan in a food processor and pulse until it is finely ground.  Add the water, eggs, and confectioner’s sugar and pulse until combined.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, ground vanilla, and salt.  Add the marzipan mixture and carefully fold in. 
4. Drizzle in the butter, and sprinkle the orange zest over the batter.  Gently fold until combined.
5. Cut the peel off the oranges, and then slice into rounds and cut each round into a few pieces.  Toss with a little flour (this gets messy!), and then place on top of the batter – they’ll sink in, and that’s perfectly fine.
6. Bake about 45 minutes, until a tester in the middle comes out clean.  Brush with Cointreau while still warm, and then let cool before frosting.
7. Make the frosting.  Melt both chocolates together, and let cool to room temperature.  Add the butter and Cointreau, and beat until fluffy.  Frost the cake.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this cookbook for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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