The other day I had a bit of a baking mishap. I had followed the instructions for an old family recipe from a photo I had taken of a quick handwritten note in the back of my mom’s planner. She’d written down that recipe into her planner years ago and every time she got a new planner she transferred this recipe into the note section in the back along with the phone numbers from Korea she’d scribbled down over the years. I don’t know who she got it from originally- it was most likely my grandma (on my dad’s side) or my aunt Cris- but it is something my dad absolutely loves to eat. Anyway, the cake was stuck in the pan and when I attempted to remove it I tore several huge chunks out of it and it was not salvageable. I texted a photo of the sad thing to my dad and of course he offered to take the cake off my hands.
My mom doesn’t bake very often. Actually, when I think about it carefully, she only bakes this cake and Aunt Betty cookies from scratch. My dad was more of the baker in my childhood memories. He was the one that instigated any sort of cookie baking in the house. At Christmas time we’d whip out that old cookie press and my dad would churn out dozens of buttery cookies. It was the best way to get as much sugar into our systems as possible during the holidays. But this cake (and the Aunt Betty recipe) was the exception. Treats from my dad’s childhood are always baked with love for my dad even though my mom wasn’t much of a sweets person herself. When I think about Valentine’s day and what it means to express love to someone you deeply care for, I think of these homemade treats and not the heart shaped boxes of chocolate from the drugstore (but don’t misunderstand and think that I would be against receiving any chocolate covered caramels!).
The only alterations I made to the original recipe was the addition of orange zest and a bit of juice to the batter and the choice of blood orange juice for the glaze to make that lovely, deep pink color for the holiday of love (also, it’s the fleeting season of the blood orange). If blood oranges have come and gone by the time you’ve decided to make this recipe, feel free to use any kind of orange. A Meyer lemon would also be quite nice in this if you can find some at the store. Be sure to use up all the glaze when serving this cake, including whatever spills off the cake.
- 3 eggs
- 2½ cups of sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 3 cups of all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons of salt
- 1½ cups of milk
- 1½ teaspoons of vanilla
- 1½ teaspoon of almond extract
- 1½ tablespoons of poppy seeds
- zest of one blood orange (zest into the bowl with the milk)
- juice of one blood orange (usually about 2 tablespoons)
- butter to grease the pan
- ¾ cup of powdered sugar
- ½ cup of blood orange juice (from about 3 or 4 blood oranges)
- 2 teaspoons of melted butter
- ½ teaspoon of almond extract
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9.5 inch bundt pan with butter (use a paper towel to help get into all the crevices).
- Combine the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and poppy seeds into a small bowl. Zest the blood orange over the bowl, cut the orange in half and add the juice of one orange (use a strainer to catch the seeds and pulp).
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the oil until the mixture is smooth.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Alternate between adding a fourth of the flour mixture and the milk mixture at a time. Mix well until everything is incorporated and the batter is smooth and a bit runny.
- Put the bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hr to about 1 hr and 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleaning from the cake. The cake should be a darker golden brown and risen.
- Let the cake cool in the pan until just above lukewarm (about 20-30 minutes). Turn upside down on a plate or cake stand (you might need to run a knife carefully around the edge to help it out.
- Whisk all the ingredients for the glaze and pour over the cake. Serve, making sure to mop up all the glaze on the plate that didn't make it on the cake.