“Beware the Ides of March”
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2, William Shakespeare
I seem to have picked a less than auspicious day to relaunch this, the still unnamed Salt of the Earth Bakery blog. But now that we have a shiny new website (isn’t it pretty?), my lovely and talented IT genius has been sending me less and less gentle missives from her perch in North Carolina that I absolutely must get back on the blogging bandwagon or face her wrath.
Scarlett, this one’s for you.
One note before we get into the nitty gritty. Wherever possible, I will try to point out where substitutions can be made to make recipes dairy-free. Aside for being useful for all my lovely kosher friends out there (hello, ladies!), this will prove helpful for all of you who have to lay off the dairy for one reason or another. On a personal note, in one of those cruel ironies of life I, a chef who worships at the altar of butter and cheese, have been ordered off dairy for the hopefully short-term future. (Et tu, Brute?) This has completely ruined my morning coffee. I don’t care what they say, NOTHING is as good as half & half.
So, here goes.
According to the website foodimentary.com, every day on the calendar is another food holiday. While I had no issue missing out on National Curried Chicken Day (January 12) or National Clam Chowder Day (February 25), picking the right food holiday on which to relaunch the woefully neglected blog was immensely difficult.
Then the theatre geek in me perked up.
The Ides of March.
The bloody murder of Julius Caesar.
How could I translate Shakespeare into baking?
With a Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf, hereinafter to be known as Ides of March Cake, of course.
The red flecks of the blood orange zest dot the cake like bloodstains on a toga, so make sure you pick the reddest blood oranges on the pile. Juicing the oranges left my kitchen counter looking like the floor of the Roman Senate after a stabbing…so mission accomplished there. Olive oil, a staple of the ancient Roman diet, takes the place of butter in this recipe. It also means you don’t need a mixer to make this cake. Just a bowl and a whisk. Super easy. Finally, I use medium grind cornmeal which is roughly equivalent to – you guessed it – polenta! Molto Italiano! Not so much ancient Roman given that corn was only introduced to Italy in the 16th century, but it does add a very nice texture to the cake.
BLOOD ORANGE OLIVE OIL LOAF or IDES OF MARCH CAKE
- 1¼ cup (142g) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (60g) medium grind cornmeal or polenta
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 blood oranges, as red as you can find
- 2/3 cup (133g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream**
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
**To make dairy-free, substitute ½ cup dairy free cultured yogurt, such as Forager Creamy Dairy Free Unsweetened Plain Cashewgurt
- 1 9×5 loaf pan – or you can get fancy and use something like this
- 1 microplane
- PREHEAT & PREP: Preheat the oven to 350° Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with oil or cooking spray.
- PREP DRY INGREDIENTS: Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- PREP THE BLOOD ORANGES: Zest the two oranges and set the zest aside. Then juice the oranges. You should yield about ¼ cup of juice.
- COMBINE WET INGREDIENTS: Combine sugar and blood orange juice in a large bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs, and olive oil one ingredient at a time and blend until the mixture is homogeneous.
- ADD DRY INGREDIENTS: Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add zest.
- POUR AND BAKE: Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
- COOL: Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Carefully unmold and continue to cool on a rack. Enjoy!