In Paris, we had a wonderful week of hot sun and picnics and afterward, four weeks of complete misery. Rain and the grey skies dominate Paris these days. Worst of all is the climbing water of the Seine, which threatens homes and metro stations. The roads by the Seine are completely flooded, causing terrible traffic jams within the city. This comes along with the several transportation strikes in Paris that are affecting RER trains as well as other trains to the suburbs. Many say the waters will slowly lower and so far, it has. Sadly, other areas in France were devastated by flooding. We’re wishing for the sun to reappear soon and for these cities to recover. As for the transport strikes, I’m not sure what is going to happen. France has made major changes to labor laws and if you’re interested in following up on the subject, read on here. If you’re coming to France soon and plan to take the RER B train from the airport, double check the RATP website (the official Paris transportation operator). You can always take a taxi or an Uber. IMPORTANT: A law has passed requiring all taxis and private drivers to charge a fixed rate for airport travel. This does not include Beauvais or the other smaller airports.
30 euros – Orly airport to and from the left bank of the Seine
35 euros – Orly airport to and from the right bank
45 euros* CDG to and from the right bank
50 euros* CDG to and from left bank
*There may be a 5 euro increase for tourist season but you should not pay any higher than 5 euros more on top of these prices listed above. Also, you may tip your driver if you wish, but it’s not necessary. One or two euros will do it.. five for excellent service, but not more than that, my friendly fellow Americans!
I always complain about the weather in my posts but I think with this horrible flooding and raining, I can justify it just a little bit. I finally borrowed a light therapy lamp from a fellow Anglophone friend. I was expecting warm looking sunlight or maybe an array of lights… like a moody disco ball. Instead, when I turned on the lamp, I nearly got blinded by a hot, bright UV white. At first I was disappointed, but while working at my home office my mood definitely brightened. I felt a bit more stimulated… reminiscent of California. Maybe it’s also the fact that I’ll be visiting my home in Los Angeles next week!
While I dream about sunshine, beaches, and tacos, I’m also stressed out about finding gifts for family and friends. I’ll be writing a post soon about some suggestions on finding great but affordable gifts from France. I’ve got to catch up on this blog… I have so many posts about France and Italy that have yet to appear. I’m running out of space on WordPress, mostly because I’m a selfish photographer and refuse to resize or reduce the resolution of my images… I know, I know… I must do it and I know that I can preserve the quality of the photos at a smaller size. What can I say? I’m a purist. What is most important though is that I’ll be moving to my own domain soon so that I’ll be able to host my own images (at the right resolution, yes yes yes…) and hopefully develop this little project of mine. The trouble is that I just can’t come up with a better name! My blog is already called “A Californian in Paris” but it’s not unique enough… or rather, it doesn’t fully encompass what I’m doing on this blog or who I am. If you have any ideas, please let me know!
This post was a long time coming. Before sharing this recipe with you, I had baked five of these babies already. But let me tell you, the first attempt was a ridiculous disaster. The cake rises a lot so make sure you have a lot of room in the cake pan (at least 2 or 3 inches) to let the batter rise. Otherwise, you’ll get a bunch of burnt batter on the bottom of your oven and a nasty smokey taste lingering over your cake.
The cake is moist because of the olive oil, but not greasy. The candied blood orange slices alongside its syrup is a wonderful companion (and maybe a dollop of crème fraîche on the side for us gluttons). Since I’ve made it so many times, friends and family have fallen in love with my cake. Blood oranges are unfortunately going out of season in France now (I no longer see them at the markets). The last ones we found were imported from Sicily and had a divinely sweet but tart taste. However, you lucky Americans may still find these jewels at a specialty market. You can also substitute blood oranges with regular oranges and enjoy similar results: a moist, citrous-y cake, light on the tongue.
For this cake, I don’t believe you need to use fancy olive oil. Though if you can find an affordable oil that would pair excellently with citrus, let me know!
Now, onto the cake…
Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake with Candied Slices
some unsalted butter to grease the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of coarse salt
2 large eggs
2 cups of granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp blood orange zest (the more, the better)
3/4 cup of freshly squeezed blood orange juice
3/4 cup of olive oil
10-12 thin slices of blood orange
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1-2 cinnamon sticks
parchment or wax paper
1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, combine the juice, zest, and olive oil. Stir well.
4. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, lightly beat the eggs together for about 1 minute or less. Do not over-beat. Gradually add the sugar in.
5. Once the liquid is a nice pale yellow, slowly, in turns, add the flour and juice/zest/olive oil mixture. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrap the sides of the mixer and make sure there are no hidden chunks of flour. Mix again for another 30 seconds. Again, I must stress that you do not over-beat the batter.
6. In a greased cake pan, pour the mixture in. Make sure you have at least 2-3 inches of space on top as the cake will rise a lot in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes (or until your fork comes out clean after piercing the center) and then turn off the heat. Leave the cake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until its top develops a nice, deep golden brown. Leaving it in the oven to gradually cool also helps the shrinkage that may happen because of how moist the olive oil cake is. Don’t leave it in too long or you’ll get an overbaked cake.
7. While you’re cooking the cake, you may begin preparing the blood orange slices. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, cut oranges into thin slices and discard the ends. It is important to make several pieces if a few of the slices don’t turn out so nice after the cooking progress. The leftovers also make a great snack 😉
8. In a small pot, bring to boil the water, sugar, honey, and cinnamon sticks. Add in the slices and let boil for one or two minutes. Afterward, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook your blood orange slices for 30-40 minutes, until rinds are somewhat translucent.
9. Carefully place the slices with tongs on parchment or wax paper. Let cool. Continue letting the syrup cook for another 10 minutes, until reduced. Set aside syrup for serving.
10. Once the blood orange slices have cooled, carefully peel them from the paper and lay them on top of the cake. When serving the cake, drizzle the remaining syrup on top.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful dessert 🙂 Bon app! Until next time. À bientôt!