If you love oranges, nothing brings their great citrus flavor to life as simply as Isabelle’s Orange Cake. It’s simple and simply wonderful; filled with the bright taste of Florida’s best!
One thing the world of food blogging has brought to my doorstep are cookbook treasures from people I actually know. While I might take it for granted a bit; every now and then I’m reminded of just how many classics I’ve been privy to as a result of my online relationships. This one is no exception but it is exceptional.
I’ve known Jamie Schler, the author of the book, Orange Appeal; Savory and Sweet, for a very long time; even if only virtually (although Skype sort of bridges those worlds of virtual and reality doesn’t it?). I remember a group of us that would say ‘good morning’ to each other every single day on Twitter, long before Twitter became a marketing and political machine and was really just a fun social network. From that grew relationships born of the mutual love of food and the creative preparation so many of us craved in our daily lives.
I’ve watched as Jamie turned her dream of writing a cookbook into a reality and much like the overnight successes we think we see come from Hollywood that are anything but, I’ve seen her work and struggle and persevere and then one day ‘make it’ as if all of those years of preparation were non-existent.
Trust me, they existed, but they have also culminated in a work that was meant to be even if Jamie didn’t know it when the dream of writing a book was just that, a dream.
While now a long time resident of France and a hotelier in the charming town of Chinon, Jamie actually grew up in Florida on the Space Coast and had a lifetime filled with all the oranges she could eat, varieties I’ve never even heard of. As a girl if we had an orange it was probably one variety so reading Jamie’s story of the oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and more that literally surrounded her, it’s easy to see why this orange-centric book is the perfect combination of her life story combined with her passion for both food and storytelling.
While Jamie’s family had always been fortunate enough to have their lives filled with fresh citrus varieties; they were not adventurous in the kitchen with them and her childhood experience did not see them used for baking or cooking. As her life took her around the world and her love of cooking expanded; she has never tired of the fruit of her youth but has take the preparation to new levels.
Single theme books can sometimes be too much of a good thing but I love that this book is so varied. Not just sweets or savory but a combination of the two with everything from appetizers through salads and main courses and of course finishing with some magnificent sweets.
While one of the simpler recipes in the book is for her dad’s ‘orange frosty,’ I cannot wait to try it. I admit to a passion for the simple orange Orange Julius that it recreates. I don’t have to wait for summer right?
When I received my copy of the book from Jamie with a lovely inscription I knew that even though this was a cookbook filled with both sweet and savory deliciousness that I would beeline for the sweets. I may not be a ‘baking blog’ per se but I do love to bake and share the results with my neighbors so I focused my attention there.
I assumed that I would be making one of her chocolate and orange combinations for I simply love that flavor profile. But then…I saw this cake. I saw how simple it was and it was that simplicity that sold me. This would be in your face orange; the best representation I could imagine to share with you from a book all about oranges!
When I review a book and commit to making a recipe from it, I fight my normal tendencies to put my own spin on a recipe and follow the author’s intent pretty religiously. I can say that I did that here maybe 95%? My only derivation was to make a portion of the juice and brown sugar combination that soaks into the cake a bit thicker and more syrupy and well, just a teeny bit boozy. THIS should come as no surprise to Jamie or my readers; if Barb can booze it up she will!
Was it necessary? No, I was more concerned about the visual impact and thought a bit thicker, drippy look would work well in these photos. Were the candied oranges slices a have to? No to that too. But…what can I say? They are easy to make and I love them so much I simply HAD to; I use this recipe from Grace Parisi and it’s simple and works every time.
It honestly took everything I had to not quickly make some sugared cranberries to combine with the orange garnish but I stopped myself for two reasons. I’ve probably done enough desserts with them lately and I really don’t have an addiction; or at least not one I can’t control and secondly, this dessert is not limited to a holiday; it’s an all year round treasure.
The day I made this cake was the first day of winter and outside it was snowing and cold. Something about filling my home with the scent of oranges brought an extra special warmth I would hope you find too. I know it might be a bit late to consider this book for holiday giving but who cares. Buy this one for YOU!
With it I’m wishing you a day of baking or cooking and filling your home with the beautiful citrus scent of orange; it can do wonders for helping with the darkness and cold of winter. I can’t promise it will transport you to Florida but it’s the season of miracles right? I can’t promise it won’t either. 🙂
As an aside, I recently shared my LOVE for these Parchment Rounds when baking cakes; this cake calls for parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and these make that effort so easy. I use them now in EVERY cake recipe to avoid that dreaded ‘cake won’t leave the pan’ mishap we all know.