Posts Tagged blood orange

Recipe Swap: Chocolate Spice ‘Depression’ Cake

So, I’ve been involved in this recipe swap for awhile now. For those of you who may not know, Christianna at Burwell General Store created this swap a few months back, in order to encourage creativity in the kitchen. Back then, it was just the two of us, but it quickly grew into a large group of foodies from all over the world.

I love the swap for so many reasons: but mostly, I love seeing how one recipe blossoms into so many tasty things (from so many talented people!). Every month, CM emails us a recipe from a darling old cookbook/hymnal – All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground – and we re-interpret the recipe however we see fit.

For this swap, CM asked us to create our own versions of “Wacky Cake” (Original recipe pictured below).

When I first saw this recipe, I panicked. First off, I’m not much of a baker. Secondly, this cake is made with VINEGAR. Vinegar?! I was stumped. I’d never heard of using vinegar in a cake! I just didn’t see how it could possibly be good. I had no idea what to do.

So, I did the only thing I could do: googled the heck out of “cake made with vinegar”. Thanks to Google, I found out a lot of interesting things about cakes made with vinegar. Namely, I found out that Wacky Cake is an old wartime recipe (it can also be called Depression Cake – a name which I personally prefer). It was originally created out of necessity, when butter, eggs, sugar and other common ingredients were rationed and hard to get. (If you want to know a little bit more about the history of this ‘wacky’ cake, listen to this great NPR piece about one family’s history with this particular cake.)

All that to say, after a little bit of research I was completely inspired by this cake. I loved the idea of a cake being borne out of hardship. It is a true testament to perseverance and ingenuity. When you don’t have eggs or butter – by golly, use vinegar.

In order to keep with the spirit of the original recipe, I decided to limit myself to ingredients that I had on hand. To be honest, I happened to have some pretty stellar ingredients lying around: one blood orange, local raw wildflower honey, and Scharffen Berger cocoa powder. But, the rest of the ingredients were quite simple.

I must say, I was totally surprised at how great this cake turned out. The vinegar worked wonders! The cake was amazingly light and fluffy, yet moist with just the right amount of density. The dark chocolate cocoa powder and fresh ginger gave the cake a flavor somewhat akin to a traditional gingerbread. It wasn’t terribly sweet (which I love) and it paired so nicely with the honey orange compote. Did I mention that it’s vegan?!

Please do check out all the other amazing creations from my fellow recipe swappers. You can find them all on CM’s Recipe swap page!

Chocolate Spice ‘Depression Cake’ with Honey Blood Orange Compote
(Cake recipe adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

1.5 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown or muscovado sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a spoon, create an indent (or ‘hole’) in the dry ingredients. Pour remaining ingredients (in the following order) into the indent: vinegar, oil, water. Mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 cake pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

For the compote:
1 blood orange
1 Tablespoon good quality honey
Dash of nutmeg

Peel and cut blood orange into segments or supremes. Gently mix orange segments with honey and nutmeg. Serve with chocolate spice cake. Enjoy!

blood orange, escarole & hazelnut salad

Oftentimes I find that the best dishes aren’t the ones that are carefully planned out. Rather, the perfect dishes are haphazardly thrown together at the last minute. This is one of those dishes.

A few nights ago, Nich and I decided we were going to stay in, make a fabulous dinner, and watch a movie. We knew that we wanted to make risotto for dinner (more on that in my next post), but I wasn’t sure what to make alongside it. Risotto is so rich and delicious, so I wanted to pair it with something fresh and vibrant.

So, as we meandered about Pastaworks gathering supplies for our dinner, I decided to let the produce do the talking. I was thrilled to see that they had a good selection blood oranges onhand. I happen to looooooove blood oranges. So much so, that I might go out on a limb and say that they are the sexiest of all fruits (and they are in season!). In addition to the blood oranges, I picked up a head of escarole (a bitter green in the endive/frisee family) and knew that I had the beginnings of a killer salad.

With such fabulous base ingredients, I didn’t need to add much to make this salad sing. I decided to toss the escarole and blood orange segments with toasted hazelnuts and fresh grated parmesean, along with a blood orange vinaigrette. It was perfect (if I do say so myself). Each ingredient stood out on its own, while complimenting the salad as a whole. And, if you’ll excuse me while I pat myself on the back a bit more – I was also really pleased with the blood orange vinaigrette that I “invented”. Since I got all fancy and segmented the blood oranges, I was left with the peel and ‘innards’. I was struck by the gorgeous blood red color, and decided to do something about it. I soaked the orange peel and innards in olive oil for awhile, then macerated the orange bits and strained out the oil. What I was left with was essentially a blood orange infused olive oil – and it was every bit as tasty as it was pretty! I then made a relatively standard vinaigrette (with garlic, vinegar, s&p…) using the infused olive oil. It was magical.

I will now sign off and simply urge you to make this simple and seasonal salad. Come on now, try the magic out for yourself. ;)


1 head of escarole, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces. (Frisee or any other bitter salad greens would work just as well)
2 small blood oranges, peeled & segmented (*if you want to be fancy like me and make proper “suprêmes”, The Kitchn has a handy little tutorial.)
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Blood orange vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Rinds & trimmings from the segmented blood oranges
1 small shallot, finely minced
1-2 tsps pomegranate or red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Soak the blood orange rind and peel in 1/2 cup (or more) of good quality olive oil. Let stand for 30+ minutes. After the mixture has had time to sit, macerate the orange (with the end of a wooden spoon, a mojito muddler, a potato masher – whatever you can find to beat up the orange bits and get them to release flavor!). Strain out the oil, using cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve.

Combine oil with minced shallot, vinegar, and salt and pepper (to taste). (Hint: The longer you let the vinaigrette sit before you use it, the better it will taste!)

Toss escarole, hazelnuts, and blood orange segments together with the vinaigrette. Grate fresh parmesan over the salad and gently toss. Serve immediately (and of course, enjoy!).