The Sweet Melissa Baking Book and I have a cozy history. I first received it from DCFoodies for a review and it’s been a assorted 024hit maker in our kitchen ever since. There are two things I love about this book: 1) the majority of recipes don’t require formal training or out-of-the-ordinary instruments and 2) there are desserts for every season, from pumpkin bread pudding to muffins with fresh strawberries. For the June Cookbook Challenge, I decided to take the whole orange-poppy seed cake for a test drive.

This is a tea cake disguised as bread. It isn’t sweet enough for a birthday cake competition but it’s just a little too sweet for a breakfast. However, it is moist, delicious, easy to make, and packed with orange zest for a citrusy zing. While making the glaze, I felt like I was really just gilding the lily. But once we dug in, the glaze provided a nice additional flavor and pep to the bread. Sweet Melissa comes through once again.  

For the cake:
1 whole orange, washed well
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups all purpose flour (we use whole wheat flour which worked just as well)
2 ¼ ts baking powder
¾ ts salt
1 TB poppy seeds

 For the glaze
2 Tb fresh orange juice
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of sugar

 Preheat oven to 350F.

assorted 023Using a sharp knife, remove any stem from the orange and slice into 8 pieces (rind and all). Add orange pieces and ½ cup of sugar into the food processor, pulsing until pureed. [NOTE: The directions don’t mention this but you should remove any orange seeds before processing the orange.]

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and remaining ½ cup of sugar until smooth. Add orange pulp and stir. Whisk in the melted butter to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flower, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the orange mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done with a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes before unmolding the cake for glazing.

For the glaze, combine orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until reduced by half. Using pastry brush, brush the glaze over the cake while it is still warm.

<<NOTE: For those of you eager for your weekly Next Food Network Star recap, stay tuned!  We’ll be posting our recap later today with some “DVD Commentary” extras from Teddy Folkman.>>