I am one of those weird people who takes pride in NOT being over winter. I still like winter. I might even say I love winter. While everyone else starts complaining two weeks in and doesn't stop until April, I'm generally pretty stoked that it's cold/snowy/etc. Granted, this is only our fourth real winter (yes, I know winter is still a season in California, but 80 degrees on Christmas IS NOT WINTER), but the novelty still hasn't worn off. I like cold and snow (but maybe not ice), and I like that those things also make me appreciate summer a lot more. I like getting bundled up and that nobody cares what ridiculous clothing choices I make from December through at least March, because it's all about being cozy and surviving the wind chill. What I do get tired of, though, is winter flavors. I know, that's not really a thing, but sometimes it sure feels like it.
This one is especially for those of us who, at some point during the winter months, hit our threshold of baking with cinnamon, chocolate (gasp!), nuts, and apples, and just want it to be seasonally appropriate to make bright, citrusy things again. Things that just scream summer or spring, but mostly just summer because spring in Chicago is any number of things, but warm and consistently sunny are not typically on that list. I want to be reminded of outdoor dining and lemonade and margaritas and mojitos and spending real time outside.
This cake is what you'd call a happy medium. I consider blood oranges to be a winter fruit (in the US, they're cultivated from November to April-ish), but they're still a welcome relief from all those heavy holiday flavors. They're bright and citrusy and a little bitter, and their juice is the most gorgeous of colors. The yogurt in this cake helps with the lightness and moistness, and complements the flavors of the blood orange pretty well. You probably could use vanilla yogurt, too, but it would definitely alter the flavor and sweetness. The addition of the syrup provides an extra layer of blood orange flavor without taking the sweetness level of the cake over the top. And, you only need one bowl (and a saucepan) to make it. Winner.
Blood Orange Yogurt Cake
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
for the cake:
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar zest of one blood orange
1/3 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (this will probably be 1/2 a blood orange, depending on size and juiciness)
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
for the blood orange syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 1/2 blood oranges
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square pan (I used nonstick spray, it was fine) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Make your syrup. Combine sugar, water, and blood orange juice in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently. Cook until sugar is dissolved and syrup has thickened just a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Make your cake. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, zest and juice by hand, or using your hand mixer.
- Add the eggs one by one, incorporating well after each addition.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. While the cake is still in the pan, use a skewer to poke holes in the cake. These holes will help the syrup seep into the cake a little bit.
- Run a knife around the pan to loosen. Flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack.
- Brush top and sides of cake with blood orange syrup. Allow to cool.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust individual servings with powdered sugar, if you'd like. Brandon liked his with extra syrup drizzled on top. I think it'd also be good with a bit of fresh, barely sweetened whipped cream. Just sayin'.