Holy crap. I’ve been doing this food blog thing for 10 years. Happy freaking blog-o-birthday-versary to me! It’s kind of a big deal big milestone so I did the one thing I knew I had to do. Bake a cake. Well, it’s actually it’s a poppy seed loaf, but it’s sweet and tangy from February’s favourite fruit, the blood orange. And there’s some almond extract for a bit of a different twist. It’s delicious, it’s moist and I can’t wait to eat another slice once I’m finished writing this post.
So after I got the cake thing out of the way, I started to reflect on how this space has changed things. First and foremost, I’m a much better cook because I’m always wanting to try new things instead of relying on the same old 5 means recycled. I’m still a chicken when it comes to some foods (I’m giving the stink eye to you, melons) but I’ve totally embraced things I previously thought I hated (thank you very much, cucumbers). It’s made me friends from so many places, it’s given me opportunities, and jobs, and customers to my etsy shop. I put myself out there into the unknown and got so much goodness out of it. It’s not a job – I would have been fired for being so slack years ago, plus the pay is shit. It’s my own little thing that I do because I like it. It’s my thang, like how my hair is red (from a box) or that I can still put one of my legs behind my head. But sometimes it’s a real drag. It’s hard to write about food after the 787th post, or cook food (because as I mentioned earlier, sometimes bad things happen in the kitchen) and for me, taking pictures is the absolute worst. It’s the one thing I really hate because I’m usually too hungry to bother with taking a photograph, dinner is usually at 8pm and I have no patience with props or trying to make a magical food scene happen. But I’ve made peace and decided that taking a photo with my iphone is totally 100% absolutely okay. Overhead shots that for the last few years have been set up on my dad’s old trunk that his dad built when they came to Canada from Lithuania is just how it is around here. It’s okay, I’m okay, we’re okay.
But back to the cake because this poppy seed loaf has been on my brain since Valentine’s Day. The plan was to make a puckering lemony loaf but work was busy, life was busy and I didn’t get around to doing any baking. So the other day I saw that Nicole Dula made an almond poppy seed bread with a blood orange glaze. Sounds really good, right? So I got distracted by the blood oranges that were in my crisper. Plus, I had already used the lemons to make this pasta dish the night before anyhow. I fiddled with the recipe I was originally using and used inspiration from Nicole and this is the result. Adding almond extract instead of vanilla was the right move. Next time I think I’ll follow Nicole’s lead and do a blood orange glaze instead of a blood orange syrup because the loaf top looks slightly gory with all the red soaked right into the top. No matter because the syrup gives this not-so-sweet loaf a big citrus-y pop in the mouth.
Okay, time for my slice. Thanks for sticking around.
blood orange poppyseed loaf
1/2 c room-temperature butter
3/4 c white sugar
1 t almond extract
1 1/2 c flour
3 T poppy seeds
1 T blood orange zest (zest from 2 oranges)
1 t baking powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 c yogurt
1 T blood orange juice
blood orange syrup:
scant 1/3 c white sugar
1/3 c blood orange juice
juice from 1/2 a lime
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a loaf tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar until well blended. Add in the eggs and almond extract and beat until fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, zest, baking powder and salt. Add half of the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mix and blend. Add in the yogurt and blood orange juice, stirring before adding the final flour addition. Mix until just combined.
Spoon batter into buttered loaf tin, spreading out the top so that it’s even and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, in a measuring cup combine the sugar, blood orange juice and lime juice and heat in a microwave or use a small pot on the stove to melt the sugar into the juice.
When the loaf comes out of the oven, poke it with a bamboo skewer several times and spoon enough of the blood orange syrup over the top while the cake is still warm. Let cool, remove the loaf from pan and slice away.
I didn’t end up using all of the syrup but any leftover syrup makes a base for a great drink – fancy a glass of blood orange lemonade?