Want to know how this recipe came about? I saw blood oranges at the grocery and was so smitten with their color that I bought a couple. This is usually how my recipes go: Oooo, I’ve never seen this. I wonder what I could do with it. *Automatically puts in cart.* One of these days, I’m going to buy something completely atrocious and make myself sick trying to incorporate it in a novel way.

Because I’m only doing this for fun, not to pull a paycheck, I feel so much freedom to explore and ultimately fail. That’s why I started this, of course. I missed having to please no one but myself, doing something for no other reason than to push myself creatively. We really don’t get that opportunity often in our adult lives.

How many times in the last YEAR have you been able to say, “Eff it, let’s try it!” with no real consequences to speak of? I hate wasting food, yes, and for the most part I haven’t had to… yet. I will aways set out to eat what I make, even if it tastes kind of terrible. I don’t bake six batches of brownies in a day and throw out any that aren’t up to par for a recipe. I don’t HAVE to post that brownie recipe TODAY. I don’t have to post it at all! That’s the beauty of this little hobby on this tiniest corner of the internet.

Of course, I HOPE one day to be validated by being paid to make food. That would be pretty cool, and is currently a bucket list item. But I’m not getting too far ahead of myself. After essentially 30 years of living with the anxiety that every thing I do BE for SOMETHING or TAKE me SOMEWHERE, I’m smacking down that little demon that lives in my brain and tells me to BE PRODUCTIVE. MAKE MONEY. FIND SUCCESS.

On bad cooking days, I rein that little guy in and ask myself, “Did you learn today? Did you enjoy today? Did you lose yourself a little today?” And guess what. Every time I cook… I answer yes to at least one of those questions. I will always crave productivity, that’s just part of who I am. As I get older, I ask myself more and more, “Will you regret the time you spent today?” That’s how I’m attempting to measure success.

OKAY, back on track. I was actually going to make a second version of a cherry cake I had previously tested on the day this blood orange cake came about. I just didn’t really feel like eating that cherry cake again. I was reserving these blood oranges for another dish. I thought for a second, decided one orange would be enough for each recipe, and began throwing things together to ultimately unveil this BEAUTIFUL, completely unassuming gem of a cake.

Now, when I ‘lose myself’ like this, the ultimate product isn’t typically a finished one. I usually fail on some front and have to try again following a few tweaks. I’m not a cake baker. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve baked a cake in my life. I don’t love cakes. The consistency is too… consistent. I want stuff, fillings, additions, various textures. I can’t help it. I’m a more-is-more person.

What do I do to remedy this? I put stuff in my cake. Sure, I could have made a lovely citrus almond cake. But why? I have blood oranges, and cherries, and lemon thyme, and cloves, and… and… and. Yes, I eventually cut myself off before adding broccoli to the batter.

I took this baby out of the oven and wanted to hug it. Then I took a bite and exclaimed, much to my husband’s amusement, “This is so good! How is this so good?! This is so good! How did I make something so good?!” I’m probably entirely overselling this recipe, and now anyone who has read this far will either hate this cake or be too exhausted to even try it.

Finally, as icing on the cake (pun intended), blend a half cup or so of cherries with some orange juice from half of your blood orange and pour over your cake slice. If you’re more disciplined than I am, wait a minute for it to sink in. I hope you love it.

Blood Orange & Cherry Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 blood orange, zested and then sliced
  • 1.5 cup cherries, pitted and halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9″ pie/cake pan.
  2. Combine eggs, vanilla extract, balsamic vinegar, almond extract and lemon thyme leaves in a bowl. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add almond meal, baking soda & powder, cloves, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
  4. Fold in 1 cup cherries, reserving a few halves for the top of the cake.
  5. Pour batter into greased pie/cake pan and spread evenly. Arrange a few orange slices and cherry halves on the top.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.
  7. If you’d like, you can make a sauce with the remaining cherries and orange. Just blend those babies (cherries) up with some fresh squeezed OJ and pour over a slice of cake. Heaven on a plate.

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