I’ve been feeling kind of bewildered this week. It started when I asked my husband if he still thought the third year of marriage was an ideal time to try to make one of those little tiny things with roly thighs and he shocked me by saying yes, and it continued when I saw him, more than once, researching two bedroom apartments in the city. “How about Roosevelt Island?” he asked and I went to go rock in the corner for a while. Nooo Roosevelt Island, nooo.
We brought in the Jewish new year with our combined families and our mothers delighting in telling us what difficult, exhausting, impossible-to-please babies we both were (our siblings were apparent delights, or nya-nya, as they put it), weeks overdue and really, it was all very funny and ha-ha until I learned that this one came out, this one I married, at over nine pounds. NINE AND A HALF POUNDS. Good god. I don’t even like lugging 5 pound bags of flour home. How could this work?
But, enough about all this. Let’s talk about a nine-pound cake! (Awesome segues like this are what keep you coming back, right?) Remember when I told you if there were ever a cookie versus cake contest, cakes would never win because you’re always fighting an uphill battle with their basic desire to be dry? Well, Ina Garten gets this. (Yes, her again. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed?) Not only does she favor pound-like cakes, whose butter-packed crumb holds moisture like a pro, she bastes them with related juices while they’re still warm, trapping in humidity that keeps the cakes fresh for days. (Something I wish our wedding cake baker had thought of, but that little box in the freezer awaiting its day in the sun, a story for another day.)
If you like orange/chocolate combinations or even if you think you don’t, I would encourage you to try your hand at this. This cake is One of the Greats, I think, and although it is on the labor-intensive side — zesting and juicing and straining and syrup-simmering and ganache-making, etc. — sometimes well-spent hours in the kitchen for an infinitely rewarding purpose is just the involved calm you need. Besides, how cute would it be in one of these?
Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.