Sometimes, you just need that showcase element to your holiday table — for impressing visitors, for impressing family members… for impressing yourself.
This vibrant winter cake isn’t as complicated as it looks, and it DEFINITELY fits the bill on that wow factor we mentioned. Make it for holiday brunch, and watch slices of the leftover cake disappear throughout the day!
Olive Oil Cake with Harissa-Candied Citrus and Harissa Grapefruit Glaze
For the candied citrus:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons Cava Harissa
Use a sharp paring knife to slice off the ends of the grapefruits and oranges. Follow the curve of the fruit as you carefully cut away strips of the outermost peel (try to leave most of the white pith on the fruit). Slice the peels lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add peels. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Allow to dry slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While peels are drying, spoon harissa into a piece of cheesecloth that has been folded over numerous times to achieve a square. Use cooking twine to carefully tie up the ends of the cheesecloth so the harissa is entirely enclosed and won’t leak. Simmer the harissa cheesecloth bundle in 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water for 8 to 10 minutes, until the syrup has achieved a strong spiciness (you can adjust your infusing time according to your spiciness preferences). Remove the harissa cheesecloth bundle and strain liquid into a bowl.
Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add 5 tablespoons of the prepared harissa simple syrup. Add the citrus peels and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the peel to a wire rack, separating clumped-together pieces as needed. Reserve the extra harissa syrup that the citrus peels were simmering in, to be added later to the glaze.
Let the peel dry for 1 hour or more, until slightly less tacky.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons grapefruit zest
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the glaze:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 to 6 tablespoons grapefruit juice
4 tablespoons reserved harissa syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter a bundt pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Use an electric mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment to beat the sugar, eggs, and zests until pale and fluffy. Add in the milk and beat until combined. Then, with the mixer still running, gradually drizzle in the oil, continuing to beat until it’s fully incorporated. Next, carefully add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, adding a half-cup or so at a time until combined. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached.
While the cake is cooking, prepare the glaze: Whisk the grapefruit juice, harissa syrup, and powdered sugar together, adding more grapefruit juice if needed to achieve a smooth, pourable consistency.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before running a paring knife carefully around the edges to help detach the cake from the pan. Carefully invert the bundt pan onto a cake stand.
Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake and allow 15 minutes or so for the glaze to set. Top with candied citrus peels, some extra orange zest, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
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