Friday, January 27, 2012

Tangerine-Soaked Tea Cake:
An ideal treat during citrus season

There’s definitely one thing I love about January and February: The appearance of an array of different types of oranges and other citrus fruits in the supermarket.
   My husband and I are big fans of blood oranges, with their deep-red crimson flesh and sweet-and-sour candy-like taste.
   Tangerines also make a major return, and these sweet citrus fruits are great for adding flavor to baking.
   Case in point: Tangerine-Soaked Tea Cake (click for the recipe), a lovely baked confection. Light and soft, it is flavored beautifully by zest and juice of tangerines, both in the cake itself and the sweet glaze on top.
   Tea cake it definitely is. It’s ideal for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
   The recipe included a step that rather mystified me: Buttering a six-cup loaf pan, then pouring in panko breadcrumbs to coat the sides.
   The breadcrumbs created very small indentations in the sides of the cake, perhaps allowing a better air flow during baking, or more glaze to soak into the cake.
   I won’t argue with the step though, because the finished product was perfect.
   Panko breadcrumbs, by the way, can be purchased in the Asian foods or bakery section of many supermarkets.
   The cake was easy to make.
   Tangerine zest (finely-grated tangerine peel), tangerine juice and lemon juice are combined in one bowl. Flour, baking soda and salt are combined in another.
   Butter, sugar and eggs are mixed together with an electric mixer, then the dry ingredients and buttermilk are added in alternating batches. The fruit juices and zest are added and mixed in.
   The batter is poured into the prepared pan, which is in turn set on a baking sheet. The cake is baked for 70 to 80 minutes.
   The glaze is made by combining tangerine juice, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl.
   After the baked cake is cooked for about 15 minutes, it is turned out onto a wire rack. With a turkey baster or pastry brush, the glaze is spread all over the top and sides of the cake.
   The cake is cooled to room temperature before serving.

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