Vanilla, Orange & Crumb


So I made a batch of David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream. I’ve made several of his flavors, as you know, but never the most classic. Turns out it’s wonderful, combining an entire vanilla bean with its seeds and 3/4 teaspoon of extract (I did a combination of Madagascar Bourbon paste [magical stuff] and [my very favorite] Orlando Mexican vanilla extract). M and I had a couple of scoops the other night with macerated strawberries but the rest is to be paired with birthday cake.


Tonight I’m making Orange Syrup Cake with Candied Oranges, Lebovitz’s adaptation of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s version in Jerusalem. This is the birthday cake for C & K.







The orange and lemon zest baked into the cake scent the cake over the course of a day but the Mediterranean method of pouring homemade citrus syrup over the hot cake when it is removed from the oven is what makes this cake extra special. At first, most of the syrup pooled at the edges (and certainly tested the seal of my springform), but eventually it all soaked in. Man, it was over-the-top tender, and because most of the base is ground almonds, the flavor and dense texture are slightly reminiscent of citrus-flavored marzipan.


C & K said it was delicious.



Discovered this video explaining how to create a rocher, or oval-shaped scoop of ice cream, earlier today; I tried to do it myself a few times with some of the vanilla when I got home, but . . . I’ll need more time. Nibbled some remnants of the cake from the fridge and I’ve decided I might like it best chilled. If I make it again, I might replace all the orange with lemon to create a sort of lemon bar cake.






Thanks to J, I’ve gotten my hands on a Vanilla Crème Cake pan, so spongey cakes and creamy fillings are abounding in my brain. My favorite idea is a sort of neapolitan Twinkie: one injection each of banana, chocolate and strawberry cream fillings; since a Twinkie is on average three bites, each bite is a different flavor. Hmmm. I might have to just go ahead with that one, eh?

neapolitan color bar

13 comments to Vanilla, Orange & Crumb

  • Muzhik

    Banana cream filling? Errr…hmmm… I’m not quite sure about that. I have yet to taste ANYTHING baked or cooked that remotely resembles the taste of banana.

  • I’m using real bananas.

  • War Pig

    @ Muzhik: America’s Test Kitchen used a trick on one show about banana pudding. They put their bananas in the oven or microwave for a spell to soften them, then drained them and boiled down the juice, reducing it quite a bit before adding it back to the recipe. I tried that in banana cream pie and it worked for me.

    @Matthew: That pouring the syrup over the finished cake is pretty much what I do with my Texas fudge cake. The final chocolate glaze is poured while hot on the still hot cake and allowed to soak in and then set up. I poke a few holes in the cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon just to be sure it gets a lot of glaze inside. Delicious decadence. I’ll put this recipe on my summer foods to try list. Sounds delicious. Lemon may be good, too, as you said. I wonder what it would taste like with a hit of Cointreau or Grand Marnier in the syrup? The Grand Marnier works so well in orange soufflé.

  • Is the cake itself chocolate, too? Choc on choc? And damn, I should’ve consulted you before I finished the cake. Some Grand Marnier would have been a nice touch.

  • Anonymous

    Everything I have cooked from “Jerusalem” has been nothing short of spectacular. Leslie and I don’t really do sweet things but we’ve both eyed that cake recipe.

  • War Pig

    Yeah, choc on choc. Like a black lump of coal and gives kids twice as many BTUs to burn. I can post the recipe if you like.

  • Gale

    Oh, pardon me while I drool over the description(s) of that and those cakes… Were I to make the Neapolitan cake, I’d be more likely to stick with the ice cream flavors, as vanilla tastes so much better to me than bananananana… :-)

  • War Pig

    It’s my mom’s recipe and she got it from her mom. Some people call it a Texas sheet cake. As I said, I poke a few small holes in the cake to add to the soaking of the icing.

    Texas Fudge Cake

    Preheat oven to 375

    Boil Together:

    ½ cup butter (one stick)
    4 heaping Tablespoons cocoa
    1 cup water
    ½ cup shortening (either 1 OR ½ stick, depending on which brand you use, if you use a stick instead of a cup measure)

    Pour the above while still hot, over:

    2 cups sugar
    2 cups flour (do not sift)
    2 eggs

    Mix and stir, adding:

    ½ cup buttermilk
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Place batter mixture in a well-greased, 13 X 9 pan or equivalent and bake for 30 minutes.

    5 minutes before the cake is done, boil together:

    1 stick of butter
    4 Tablespoons cocoa
    6 Tablespoons milk

    Pour this over 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, stir until dissolved, add 1 cup chopped nuts (optional). Use this to ice the cake while it is still hot. Let cake cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

    This is an extremely heavy and rich cake that serves many people.

    Heavy and rich doesn’t begin to describe it. Absolutely wonderful with coffee. I have added a shot of dark rum to the icing at the end if it is for adults only. Rum seems to add to the flavor of chocolate. This is the most requested of my recipes, even ahead of my stuffed zucchini. It is NOT for diabetics, naturally. I make it and take one one to mom’s nursing home occasionally and she shares with her special cronies. They all act like kids when they see it. They race each other to the table in their walkers and wheelchairs. I figure any time you can brighten their day in there, it’s a good thing. I don’t put rum in the nursing home cake icing, of course, because of the various meds they all take.

  • @WarPig . . . Man, that sounds gooey as all get out. Sounds like something my mother might make, although with summer nearly upon us, I may have to make a pan for a bbq or something other, where I can prevent myself from over-eating by sharing.

    @Gale . . . ah, but you haven’t had my homemade banana cream filling. It’s so good that I’m ready to drop the cake makin’ and just stick with making over-the-top delicious fillings. :)

  • War Pig

    It IS full of calories, but makes a good BBQ or reunion dessert. As I said, it goes quite a long way. We even made two of them for one daughter’s daughter’s birthday party and were voted “cool parents” by the thirty kids at the party. My grandson, the hulking high school football lineman, asks me to make a couple when he has a few of his his football teammates at his house. His mom, my daughter, generally cooks the side dishes and I BBQ the burgers and franks and provide the dessert. She can cook the cake but usually doesn’t as she cannot keep from snacking on it before the function.

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig, my ex-wife introduced me to this, courtesy of her Oma. Differences: she used a cookie sheet that measured about 10″ x 15″, so the result was thinner and not so cloying. VERY popular at office parties.

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik; Those are called Texas Sheet Cakes. Very similar, but the thicker ones are less brownie-like and are more fudgy, hence the slightly different name. Both are quite good. I have an oma, too, (German on Dad’s side) and she didn’t have the larger pan clean or available or whatever so she made it in the smaller one, once. Ompa liked it better, and it stuck. At least that’s the family fable. How 2nd generation Germans came to enjoy a Texas recipe in the first place is lost in the shroud of mystery.