The citrus fruit season is almost behind us. Before it leaves and the flavors of autumn begin to drown us in their apple spiced goodness, you need to get your hands on some oranges and a bottle (or two!) of this Spiced Grapefruit Tonic mixer from Powell & Mahoney and make this sponge cake. The cake is warm with hints of autumn from the honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The spiced grapefruit tonic mixer adds a hint of allspice and a subtle tartness to this simply sweet cake. The cake is light and almost cloud-like. Couldn’t you image it? Instead of clouds we had little flying sponge cakes in the air. Actually, scratch that idea, that sounds terrifying. Clouds belong in the sky and cake belongs on my plate. You should put that saying on a t-shirt.
For this recipe I wanted to make candied orange slices because 1). They would look really pretty on top of a cake and 2). I wanted to learn how to make them. This was my first time attempting candied anything, so I was excited and bit unsure. I watched this video and it helped a lot in making sure I was on the right track. Next time I think I’m going to slice my orange slices a tad thinner. Oh well! Not bad for a first attempt, am I right?
Speaking of first attempts, thanks to Valentina, I learned how to dye my own cheesecloths and I was super pleased with how they turned out. I used a mixture of cinnamon-apple tea, chamomile tea, French pressed coffee, and chai tea as my dying agents. All I did was cut a roll of cheesecloth in into six equal lengths, brewed my teas and coffee, and let them clothes soak in their designated liquids for 1 hour, ringing them out halfway through before putting them back in. Super easy and cost effective. I now have six new clothes for under $10. That’s what I call DIY. #livingthatcollegelife
Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of a sponge cake. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good sponge cake once in a while. I think I prefer a denser, buttery cake to the light, airiness of the sponge cake. Or perhaps it stems from my dislike of eggs. Fun fact about me: I hate the taste of eggs. I was recently telling Laura about this and she, for a moment, questioned the legitimacy of our friendship. What’s wrong me?? From a kid up, I could never get over the taste of eggs. From scrambled to poached, and sadly, even a custard or soufflé. If I can taste that eggy-ness, I can’t do it. But this cake is far from having an eggy taste (hooray for me!) The egg-flavored is overshadowed by the sweet-tartness of the tonic and honey syrup. I decided to mix together the honey and a ¼ cup of the tonic to create a tart/sweet syrup combo, which turned out delicious. This cake is perfect as a midafternoon snack with tea or coffee or after a hearty weekend dinner and you’re looking for something lite.
Spiced Grapefruit Sponge Cake
with Candied Orange Slices
Original recipe from Easy As Apple Pie
For the sponge cake
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temp.
1 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons spiced syrup (1/4 cup Spiced Grapefruit Tonic + ¼ cup honey)
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For the candied grapefruit slices
2 navel oranges
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 ¾ cups water
¼ cup Spiced Grapefruit Tonic
For the icing drizzle
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons Spiced Grapefruit Tonic
For the candied grapefruit slices. Trim the ends of the citrus. Slice them into 1/4" thick slices. Carefully remove and discard any seeds. In a large skillet, combine the sugar, water, and light corn syrup and bring to a boil, whisking continuously until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the orange slices to the pan in one single layer, and bring to a low simmer. Simmer the slices in the poaching liquid for 1 hour, uncovered, or until the slices have become nearly transparent.
Meanwhile, set aside a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the slices are transparent, transfer them carefully with tongs from the poaching liquid, allowing any excess syrup to drip back into the pan, and place onto the cooling rack, laying them out flat to dry. Allow the candied orange slices to dry, uncovered, for at least of 24 hours, or until they are mostly dry and minimally tacky.
For the cake. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour one 8-inch pan or two 6-inch and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, zest, and 3 tablespoons of the mixer/honey syrup (cover and save the rest for later) for no less than 15 minutes on medium/high speed. Over time, the eggs will become pale yellow and incredibly fluffy, almost tripling in size. You'll know it's ready when the mixture is able to "sit" at the top without falling.
Using a wooden spoon, gently fold in the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg a little at a time. Some of it will immediately sink to the bottom, so make sure everything is well incorporated but not so much so that it falls flat. When all of the flour is mixed in, carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Do not smooth the top or drop it against the counter, you don’t want the cake to deflate.
Carefully transfer the cake to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Do not open the oven door for at least the first 20 minutes. When the top is golden and a toothpick (not a knife!) can be inserted into the middle and come out clean, turn the oven off and leave the cake to cool with the oven door ajar for about 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and carefully invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cake is entirely cooled, gently poke a dozen or so holes in the top using a toothpick of the prongs of a fork. Brush the syrup mixture over the cake and let it sit a while to absorb the flavors. When ready to serve, top with the candied oranges and icing drizzle.
Huge thanks to Powell & Mahoney for reaching out to me and wanting to sponsor this recipe. I really enjoyed working with their products. I’m excited to be sharing more recipes soon using their products. As always, all opinions, ramblings, stories, and recipes are my own.