For my birthday a week and a half ago, I wanted to bake my own cake (of course). But when it comes to desserts, I’m not really a cake person. I toyed with the idea of baking a birthday Apple Pear Cherry Crisp, but in the end tradition won out. And I found a gorgeous recipe for Orange Chocolate Chunk cake in Barefoot Contessa Parties.
Cleverly I decided that, rather than baking a regular size cake, I’d make half a recipe in a 6-cup bundt pan, avoiding the leftovers and the temptation that come with a full cake.
I hadn't baked a bundt cake before, so I was nervous about unmolding it. After some research, I found a great technique for removing bundt cakes from the pan that worked perfectly. I’ve included it at the bottom of the recipe.
What I should have worried about, given that I was guessing at baking time, was whether the cake was actually done. The girls were watching as I took it out of the oven. Our “Oooh”s at seeing the perfectly formed cake pop out of the pan turned into “AAAAH!”s when the squishy insides started oozing their way out. I propped the shell up with a few ramekins and stuffed it back into the oven so it could finish baking. But, flattened and misshapen, it wasn’t camera-ready. So I made the recipe again last week, thereby nullifying any benefits of making half a cake.
The great news is, I loved it! It was so orange-y, every bite tasted like summer sunshine. I kept the same amount of orange glaze called for in the original recipe and it was just perfect. Next time, I might even make it without the chocolate ganache. The sweet orange cake studded with chunks of chocolate was so wonderful, it didn’t need an adornment at all.
Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties)
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
zest of two oranges
1 1/2 cups flour, plus one tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
6 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks
For the syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
For the ganache:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 Tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 6 cup bundt pan. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for about five minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 Tbsp flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan as specified at the end of the recipe, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow it to cool completely.
For the ganache, melt the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
To remove bundt cake from the pan:
Just before the cake is done baking, place a folded towel in the sink and saturate it with steaming hot water. When the cake comes out of the oven, set it on top of the towel, pan side down, and leave it for ten seconds. Immediately invert the cake onto a cooling rack. The cake will come out clean and whole without sticking. Be careful because cakes are very delicate when hot and can break apart easily. If it starts to break apart, leave it in its pan to cool for 20 minutes and try again.