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Old 03-02-2010, 07:29 PM   #1
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Whole Citrus Cake was bitter! Anyone have experience with it?

Hi everyone,

Last night I tried this recipe for whole-orange cake, except I used key limes and upped the sugar to 1 1/2 cups

1 whole orange (fresh)
6 oz. butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 tsp salt.

Basically, you puree the citrus until it is a paste (mine was a little more liquid, though), and add all the other ingredients.

In the end, the cake was VERY--inedibly, in fact--bitter. It was strange, because it had the most wonderful, aromatic, pronounced key-lime flavor, but then finished with a horrible bitterness.

The bitterness, I know, comes from the pith, which I included in the recipe.

I think it must have something to do with limes, too. I have read about many people making this recipe and loving it, so I'm wondering--why didn't it work for me?

So, I decided to blanch the key limes today. blanched them whole, three times for 30 minutes. Pureed, added a little sugar so I could taste it. Extremely bitter. Threw it out. So that I could still make the recipe, I zested some key limes, peeled them, and pureed the fruit (sans peel) in the blender and used that, along with all the zest in the recipe. I even added a little bit of the bitter puree I had made -- I felt bad wasting it. Good key lime cake, but nowhere near the citrus intensity I was looking for. And, even though I only used a little, there is a slight bitter ending from the whole-lime puree I did use.

I'm thinking limes might just be more bitter than other citrus fruits? I'm thinking of making it with the orange soon. Has anyone else tried this?

Also, I'm thinking of using whole limes next time. I would peel them and blanch the peel, scraping out the softened pith so avoid the bitterness (I did this making candied grapefruit peel once), and puree the peeled fruit and de-pithed peel. But it's lots of work. I would just make it an orange cake (and add lime zest) if I knew I could use the whole orange.

Sorry for the rambly-ness of this. Lots of thoughts.

Tim

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Old 03-02-2010, 08:00 PM   #2
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I do whole orange cake/muffins all the time, no bitterness. I think limes just naturally have a bit more bitterness. Try the orange and see what you think.
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:51 PM   #3
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Thanks, Alix. I'm curious -- is your recipe similar to the one I posted? I found it very dense yesterday -- it was almost more like a bar. I'm fine with that, I just couldn't see it made into muffins. What do you do?

And, whole orange cake has 5 minutes left in the oven! I think I'll top it with a simple grapefruit/sugar glaze. The orange puree wasn't bitter at all -- such a difference from the limes! Now I'll have to explore whether a lemon works...

Tim
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:14 PM   #4
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Sunshine Muffins

Ingredients:
1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries(optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions:
Cut orange into 8 pieces. Put cut-up orange (that's right - the whole orange), orange juice, egg and oil in blender. Blend until smooth. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend. Add raisins and nuts. Blend just until mixed. Pour mixture into muffin tins and bake at 375 deg.F (190 deg.C) for 15-20 minutes. Makes 16 medium muffins.

I will go look for my orange cake recipe.
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Old 03-03-2010, 11:14 AM   #5
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Thanks for the recipe, Alix! Looks like some of the best orange-cranberry muffins ever...

UPDATE ON THE WHOLE ORANGE CAKE!

The recipe in my first post was great. I whipped the eggs with half the sugar (pureed the orange with the other half) until ribbony. and then made an emulsion with melted butter, and finally folded in the rest of the ingredients. Baked at 350 or 50 minutes. Dense, moist, intense orange flavor.

Tim
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:33 PM   #6
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I wonder if it would help if you supremed the limes.

I always remove the membranes when I eat a grapefruit and there is no bitterness at all. Grapefruit is also very bitter and maybe there is more bitterness in the membranes of the limes than there is in an orange.
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:16 PM   #7
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Hi Lizaand -- I must have missed this response! Sorry for the delay.

I actually ended up making another Key lime cake. I used a fluffy yellow cake recipe (the one from cook's illustrated, actually), but substituted pureed limes (sans the peel) for the buttermilk. To be clear, I didn't supreme the limes -- just used them whole without the peel -- and it was great. I also added the zest. Not as intense as the whole orange cake, but still really good. I imagine a citrus frosting (maybe a sabayon of sorts that uses juice instead of wine) would really up the citrus flavor, but I've yet to try it.

For the best flavor, I think I would have to peel the limes, blanch the peels until the pith is soft, remove the pith with a spoon, and puree the peel with the limes. I made grapefruit peel candy once and blanching the peel and scraping the pith out really works, but it is SO MUCH work... Looks like I'll be sticking to orange cake and muffins, instead.

Tim
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