A dinner out should always end with dessert, unless of course you ate your weight in food which, let’s be real, does happen occasionally. I usually am a feen for chocolate. If chocolate molten cake or chocolate soufflé is on the dessert menu, forget about it, its a done deal … Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!
I suppose most good things come to an end, and in this case it is my craving for chocolate at the end of the meal. Recently, I find myself replacing my usual chocolate dessert with that of citrus. I am not sure what my body is trying to tell me but I know citrus is bursting with Vitamin C which is great to ward off winter time colds (or at least shorten the length they last), reduces the chances of strokes, and the skin of an orange has been proven to reduce cholesterol. The light and refreshing essence of citrus ultimately leaves me feeling light, even after a heavy meal!
Having parted ways with my job a few weeks ago, I have had lots of time to reflect and enjoy the simpler things in life. I will elaborate on this life moment in a later post, but what has come of this time is transforming my flat’s kitchen into a test kitchen where I have enjoyed experimenting with different grains. I cannot say too much about the concept I am working on, but it is very much an idea in it’s infancy, and I am learning lots! Lucky for you, my newly acquired knowledge will allow for some magnificent morning time recipes, like the one below for Zesty Orange Millet Cornmeal Cake.
In doing some research on various grains, I visited my local library and picked up pretty much every book I could find pertaining to the subject. One of my favorites is Super Grains by Chrissy Freer. Chrissy profiles a plethora of grains from chia to farro to barley and beyond offering details on their origin, nutrition, and use. One grain that I found particularly interesting is millet. Millet is able to grow in harsh environments and is thought to have originated in western Africa. Stemming from the same family as Spinach (did not expect that!), millet is a gluten free grain that is and easy to digest. Millet contains a moderate amount of dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and various phytochemicals. As you well see from this recipe millet has a similar texture as polenta and tastes great in baked goods.
In the mood for citrus based desserts, Freer’s Orange & Almond Syrup Cake is the inspiration for today’s zen morning recipe. A slice of this orange cake with a cup of tea, is a great way to start the morning, or end an evening!
This recipe takes approximately 1.5 hours from start to finish. You are going to want to pre – heat your oven to 350 F, and grease your cake pan. I like using a springform cake pan so I can easily remove the sides.
Next, fold in the millet meal, almond meal, cornmeal, baking powder, and orange zest. I love how orange zest brightens the flavor and adds a pop of color.
Spoon the mixture into your springform cake pan, and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. I find the back of a spoon works better then a spatula for smoothing cakes out. Place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cake and cover with foil. Place the cake back in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for ten minutes and remove the side of the pan.
While the cake is cooling prepare the syrup. The cake will absorb this syrup allowing for a chewy yet dense texture. In a small sauce pan zest one medium orange then add the juice of half of the orange along with one cup of sugar. You are going to want the sugar to dissolve over medium heat. Once sugar has dissolved increase the temperature to high. Boil for three minutes then reduce to a simmer for two minutes.
Carefully brush half of the syrup on the cake. Once the cake has cooled brush the remaining syrup.
Cut the cake and serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a slice of orange, and a little orange zest.
In the comments below, let me know what your favorite zesty morning treat is, and maybe I will try your suggestion next!
See you at Sunrise,
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup millet meal
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups almond meal
- 1 1/4 cups medium ground cornmeal
- 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
- Greek - style plain yogurt, to serve
- Zest from one medium orange
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a round 8 1/2 inch springform cake pan.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the millet meal, almond meal, corn meal, baking powder, and orange zest.
- Pour the mixture into the pan, and smooth the surface. The batter will be thick, don't worry about that. Bake for 30 minutes then cover the top with foil and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven when tooth pick comes out clean.
- Remove the side of the pan, and let cool.
- Syrup: Place orange juice, orange zest, and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, and return to a simmer for 2 minutes. Remember to continue stirring throughout.
- Remove syrup from heat and brush the warm cake using half of the syrup. Once the cake has cooled, brush on the remaining syrup.
- Serve the cake with a dollop of Plain Greek yogurt and garnish with an piece of orange and orange zest.