Friday, October 30, 2009

Tangerine Vanilla Loaf Cake

It's fall and many food blogs are featuring recipes made with apples and pears. While I too find apples and pears worthy inspiration at this time of year, autumn also brings to my mind other seasonal fruit -- citrus.

You see, we lived in Florida for five years and October marks the start of the state's citrus harvest. Large trucks filled with juice oranges become a common sight on the highways and fruit stands are stacked high with several varieties of just-picked, juicy citrus. We luckily lived near a small private citrus grove, where we picked oranges, grapefruit, tangelos (a delicious cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit) and, my favorite, tangerines.

Tangerines, also known as mandarins, are smaller and sweeter than oranges, with a distinctive flavor. They also have looser skin than oranges, making them easier to peel -- and easier to eat.  Freshly squeezed tangerine juice is totally luscious, great on its own or mixed with champagne (tangerine mimosa anyone?) I also like to use the juice in cooking. For example, a spritz in an Asian stir fry provides a nice twist.  

So when I saw this recipe for a quick bread using clementines, I instantly thought tangerines. I used five tangerines in total, but more may be needed depending on the size of the tangerines. I also substituted one vanilla bean (I only had one on hand) for a teaspoon of vanilla extract and it worked out fine. The bread, which I'm calling a loaf cake, is moist and full of tangerine flavor; a great afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

Tangerine Vanilla Loaf Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 tablespoon tangerine zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice, divided
2 tangerines, supremed* (for zest, juice and supremes about 5-6 tangerines total)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an flour 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.

2. Mix together 1/4 cup tangerine juice, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking poder and salt.

3. With a mixer on medium, combine tangerine zest, butter, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla seeds (about 4 minutes). Add eggs one at a time. With mixer on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, then half of the cream mixture, another third of flour, the remaining cream and then the last of the flour.

4. Fold in tangerine supremes and pour batter into loaf pan. Gently smooth top.

5. Place loaf pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake 55-65 minutes or until tester comes out clean from center of loaf.

6. While loaf is baking, put 1/2 cup of tangerine juice and 1/4 cup of sugar in small sauce pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer forthree minutes.

7. Remove loaf from oven. With a skewer, poke holes all over the top and brush with half the tangerine syrup. Allow loaf to cool about 15 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely.

8. Brush the rest of the tangerine syrup onto the sides and top (again) of loaf.

* To supreme the tangerines, use a small paring knife and slice off the top and bottom, to expose the pulp. Starting at the top, where the pith (white part) meets the pulp, slice off the skin following the curve of the fruit. When all the peel is removed, slice out each segment by cutting in towards the center of the fruit along the membranes. Remove the now supremed segments.

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