Bay swims and blood oranges

First swim of 2022 accomplished! Took me awhile to get back down there but I’m very glad I did. This marks one year of extremely regular bay swimming! My average is probably twice a week – there were a bunch in there where I was very regular with a MWF schedule but lately not so much. It felt COLD to me today but that’s probably because oh right it’s January and also because it’s been a bit since I’ve been in… still in my sleeveless wetsuit though, so that’s something. I think the water temp today was 50? Not sure. Definitely one of my fave ways to start a weekend :)

I have a cake for you today! I think I say this every time but I really don’t make cakes that frequently. Probably because I can cram more fruit into something like a crisp or a galette and that’s always a priority, but I like a good cake now and again for a change.

This one fits the bill perfectly – it’s poppy seedy and almondy, with a moist crumb and a bit of pleasantly dense texture. As it is grain/gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free, it relies primarily on eggs for its loft and is made only with almond flour. I consider this to be a super simple cake – it doesn’t require a bunch of different flours or a mixer. In fact, it could easily be put together for a brunch the morning of; the blood orange curd (gf but not dairy free) can be made in advance up to a week, so that’s an easy one to knock out a few days ahead.

I love this for dessert with ice cream but it most definitely holds its own in a brunch/breakfast situation, and it’s perfect alongside coffee. The blood orange curd is of course optional but highly recommended (and not intimidating! don’t let it scare you off). Plus, blood orange season isn’t super long – I try to take advantage while I can. They are so beautiful!

In other news, we’ve been having some beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the city of late – here’s a sunrise from earlier this week and a cactus happily doing its cactus thing.

I hope your weekend is full of good things! Maybe cake? I definitely recommend cake :)

Almond Poppy Seed Cake with Blood Orange Curd

Grain and gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. Kind of paleo, I guess? A riff on this almond cake I made years ago. Lightly sweet and perfectly moist, especially good for midwinter citrus season! The blood orange curd is gluten free and refined sugar free but made with butter; I think a dairy free butter would work here. Yield: one 6-9″ cake (depending on cake pan of choice), serves several.

2 c (packed) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 c poppy seeds
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
blood orange curd, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease an 8″ springform (or cake pan, or cast iron! I’ve used a deep 7″ cast iron to great effect here; I’ve also used a 6″ springform very successfully for a taller cake) with coconut oil and dust with a bit of almond flour. If I use a springform, I typically set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment to catch any drips.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, soda and salt, and poppy seeds. In a smaller bowl, whisk together beaten eggs (just beat these in the same bowl before adding everything else) maple, almond and vanilla extracts, and melted coconut oil. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Stir wet ingredients into dry, until combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes (9″ will probably be more like 35; my 6″ springform went for 40) – the top should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack! Ideally give it at least 10 minutes before releasing the springform; if you used a cake pan, I’d suggest letting it cool completely before removing. Serve warm, room temp or chilled (for a nicely solid cake; I love the texture of chilled coconut oil cakes) with a dollop of blood orange curd and a few citrus slices.

Keeps well overnight in the fridge.

Blood Orange Curd

3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 c blood orange + meyer lemon juice (I used 4 small blood oranges + 1 lemon)
blood orange zest (I just zest as many as I will use for juice)
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla

I use a double boiler for this lemon curd, which I highly recommend! You don’t have to, but in my experience it makes for a better cooking process. Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, citrus zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the butter one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens and will coat the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat, and strain through a metal strainer to remove zest and any bits of cooked egg. Store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use – can be made up to a week ahead.

Blood oranges: Mother Nature’s ombre playground

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It’s blood orange season! They are just absolutely gorgeous, I never get tired of that beautiful color.

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They remind me of stained glass… appropriate, considering architecture and food are two of my fave things (really?! I’m sure you had NO idea). Case in point: old and new! A favorite juxtaposition.

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I love how they’re variegated in color too – you never quite know what you’re getting. Dark red? Ombre? Everything is fair game when mother nature gets involved.

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It’s sunny and beautiful today!! I’ve been enjoying the rain but I must say I’m not minding the sun either… AND it’s ski season! Tahoe-bound this week to get back on my K2 babies — it’s been way too long. Actually I’m currently sitting OUTSIDE to write this, what?! Weird. But awesome. Hooray for wifi that extends into the back yard!

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But back to food. This tart is perfect winter dessert — I’m also pretty sure I’ve said that about the last five citrus desserts I’ve made but that’s because it’s TRUE! Citrus + winter = made for each other. The brightness of the citrus perks up even the greyest of days, even for someone like me who *likes* the grey! (I like sun too, don’t get me wrong)

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Highly recommended, easy and delicious. This can also be made in stages and left overnight in the fridge before serving, so it’s a user-friendly experience all around. Lightly sweet, lightly tart, orangey & chocolatey.

Happy weekend!

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Blood Orange Curd Tart on a Chocolate Coconut Crust with Candied Ginger

Blood orange curd is like lemon, only it’s orange! Brilliant, no? Ha. Lightly sweet, somewhat tart (though less so than it’s lemony cousin), complemented by a chocolate coconut crust and candied ginger… for breakfast and dessert! Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 9″ pie dish; serving sizes are up to your discretion. A Wait are Those Cookies original – the curd is riffed off of my usual go-to, and the crust is an easy favorite I’ve modified many times for different tarts.

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For the curd (make at least one day ahead so it can chill overnight in the fridge)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest from 3 blood oranges
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine eggs, coconut oil, honey, sea salt, blood orange juice, lemon juice and orange zest. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, whisking constantly for about 10-15 minutes – it should be just on the edge of a low boil. The curd should thicken and your whisk will make tracks – it will still be runny but will firm up a bit in the fridge. Strain curd through a metal strainer into a glass container and let cool completely before storing in the fridge (overnight is preferable, but at least 4 hours if pressed for time).

For the crust:

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted

In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, cacao powder, coconut, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, maple, and melted coconut oil and stir until completely combined. The dough will look crumbly, but you’ll be able to press it together with your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a pie plate with coconut oil. Press the crust into the plate and up the sides with a spoon or your fingers, creating a smooth edge (or not, your call!). Poke the bottom with a fork a few times, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

For garnish:

  • 2 small blood oranges, sliced thinly
  • candied ginger
  • shredded coconut

Assembly:

Once the crust is cool, pour the curd into the crust and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the curd is just set when you jiggle the pan. Let cool completely and chill for an hour or two before topping.

Top the cooled tart with sliced oranges & candied ginger + shredded coconut if that’s your jam (melted chocolate wouldn’t come amiss either, I’m sure)… Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers – I usually just cover the original pie dish with foil but an airtight container works just fine too.

Happy eating!

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