Orange and almond upside down cake

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

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Upside down cakes, specifically citrus upside down cakes, are a dime a dozen this time of year. And I get it! Citrus is where it’s at in the winter and what else do you do with the giant bag of oranges or lemons that you find in your fridge?

Also, WTF do you do with kumquats? I always want to buy them because I’m a sucker for anything miniature, but they freak me out. And I’ll be honest: I’ve read online that you can eat them raw, skins and all. STRONG DISAGREE. The ones I’ve had are entirely too bitter to eat without any cooking. But this cake is the magical trick!

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

I love this cake for many reasons, but primarily because it’s less sweet and naturally gluten-free. It bakes in under 30 minutes, you only need one bowl, AND it’s fancy enough for company, but simple enough for a weeknight.*

* (Don’t you love when people say that? Who has time for dessert on a weeknight?? But if you did, this would be the cake to make.)

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

A couple of notes:

  • To make this cake dairy-free, just sub in some non-dairy yogurt and use clarified butter or coconut oil for the syrup.

  • When prepping your pan, butter JUST the sides of the pan, not the bottom. The butter/sugar syrup won’t spread out properly, which means, you’ll have pockets with syrup and pockets without.

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

Orange almond upside down cake

4 cara cara oranges, 4 clementines, and a pint of kumquats
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp finely ground corn meal or polenta
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp orange zest 
½ tsp almond extract

For the syrup:
2 tsp butter
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter ONLY the sides of a 9-inch baking pan and set aside. *See notes above

Peel the oranges and clementines, removing the outer pith. Slice the oranges into 1/8-inch thick slices (you should get about 7 slices per medium orange) and remove the seeds. Set aside.

Slice the kumquats and set aside. (No need to peel these, but I do remove the seeds for ease of slicing. When you hit a seed, just pop it out with your knife or give the slice a gentle squeeze and the seeds will pop out.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, brown sugar, and eggs.

Stir in the corn meal, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the orange zest and almond extract and stir again to combine. Set aside.

To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and water. Heat over a medium low flame and stir frequently, just until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce thickens slightly, about 3-4 minutes.

Pour the hot syrup into your prepared baking pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the orange, clementine, and kumquat slices in any pattern you like, nestling them into the syrup. It’s okay if there are some open spots.

Top with the cake batter and smooth out gently so you don’t move the citrus.

Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the sides of the cake. Place your cake plate upside down over the cake and, using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands, carefully invert the cake and place the cake stand right side up. Carefully lift off the baking pan, being careful of any steam that might escape.

Yield: 8-12 slice

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

Lemon basil ricotta cake

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You may find the idea of turning on the oven insulting given that the weather is so unbelievably hot and humid. But hear me out: This cake requires one bowl and less than 30 minutes in the oven. AND is chock-a-block with sweet, tangy, summery flavor. A weeknight cake if there ever was one.

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One of my favorite things about finally having a yard is growing our own herbs. And we can't keep up with how fast the basil grows. It's a good thing I L.O.V.E. pesto. And we've definitely been throwing a handful of basil into just about everything, including our cakes.

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I didn't healthify this recipe at all; It's full of white flour and sugar. I did use the smallest amount of sugar possible in the batter to have a sweet cake without it being cloyingly so. Not for nothing, there's another 3/4 cup of confectioner's sugar in the glaze, so this baby doesn't want for sweetness.

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It took some tinkering to figure out the right amounts of basil and lemon to impart a strong flavor without turning the cake bitter (too much basil) or sour (too much lemon). In the end, the basil is a background herby note that plays really well with the bright lemon flavor.

And ricotta! I adapted this recipe from the famous French yogurt cake and the textures are very similar. I think the ricotta makes the cake ever-so-slightly more dense and a little more savory.

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A quick note: Be sure not to overcook the cake. It will cool completely in the pan, which means it'll keep cooking a bit while it cools. Check the cake at the shortest time listed, even if your oven doesn't run particularly hot.

Lemon basil ricotta cake

2 eggs
1 cup ricotta (I've had equal success with part-skim and whole)
1/2 cup sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tbsp lemon zest (zest of two extra-large lemons)
¼ cup basil (packed), minced
2 cups AP flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

For the glaze:
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup of lemon juice (juice of 1 very large lemon)

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, sugar, olive oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and basil and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the wet and dry components are combined and no clumps of flour remain. The batter will be very thick.

Pour (or plop, as this is a thick batter) the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 22-30* minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (We have a very hot oven, so yours may need more time, but check often to avoid overcooking.)

Let cool for about 10 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Add the confectioner’s sugar to a medium bowl and slowly pour in the lemon juice, whisking constantly, until you’ve reached your desired consistency (a thin glaze soaks into the cake better, so use your judgment) .

Once the cake is slightly cooled, pour your glaze over the entire top, making sure that the liquid goes into the holes. I sometimes use a brush to coax the glaze into the holes, but this isn't strictly necessary. Let cool completely in its baking dish.

Yield: 8-10 pieces

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Granola cups

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So, lunch at school. Do your kids actually eat it? M's eating is hit or miss. Though I pack his favorites, the school lunchroom seems to render them inedible. Fancying things up with cookie cutters and toothpicks seems to increase his interest. However, I'm pretty sure that the amount of effort I put into his lunches is inversely proportional to how much of it he actually eats.

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To that end, here is a SUPER SUPER easy way to get some whole grains into your kiddos. Fill them with yogurt, fruit and veggie purees, sun butter, or whatever strikes your fancy. AND, these are so quick, require one bowl, and keep well in the fridge or freezer. So if your kids don't eat them, you'll feel less like raging at the sky!

I've experimented a lot with granola cups. We made them for the first time in a kids' cooking class and they were tasty, albeit a little bland. They also lost their crispiness almost immediately. I added some egg whites and a little healthy fat, which helped. But really, the millet is the key here to a crispy texture. So get thee to Whole Foods and pick up some millet. You won't regret it.

I used a combo of regular oats (not quick oats!) and quinoa flakes for extra protein, but feel free to use 2 cups of regular oats if you don't have or don't want to have quinoa flakes (you can also snag these at Whole Foods or a health food store in the cereal aisle).

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Granola cups

1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup quinoa flakes
½ cup millet
½ cup + 2 Tbsp honey
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 12-cup cupcake tin by spraying or wiping it with coconut or olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa flakes, millet, honey, whipped egg whites, salt, and cinnamon and mix well.

Add two heaping tablespoons of the mixture to each cup, making sure to leave some in the bowl for filling in holes as needed. (So, start out filling 9 of the 12 cups and then fill in the rest with whatever you have left in the bowl.) Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture gently up the sides of the cups. If any holes appear while you're smoothing out the sides and bottom, add more of the oat mixture.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until the cups start to brown at the edges.

Yield: 9-11 cups

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Halva Hamantaschen

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I meant to post this recipe yesterday, but after turning my kitchen into a veritable Hamantaschen factory testing different dough recipes, I had to take a break.

I love love love a good hamantaschen, the traditional cookie of Purim. When done right, the cookie part isn't terribly sweet and hovers somewhere between tender and snappy and, most importantly, lets the filling shine. My personal favorite is plain old apricot jam, but I was inspired by Molly Yeh's sprinkletaschen and knishentaschen to make my own frankentaschen with a halva filling.

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I'm always intrigued by halva, but never really like it. The dry, chalky texture really throws me, but I like all of the ingredients, which is what leads me back time and again. Instead of making actual halva or using a store-bought version, I just used the basic ingredients (honey, tahini) and added some other favorites like lemon zest and pistachios. I also threw in an egg and the tiniest bit of flour and baking powder to make the filling more batter-like.

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The real trick was finding a dough recipe that I liked. I nixed all of the cream cheese-based doughs because reviewers complained that the dough often doesn't hold its shape in the oven. I also thought the tang would compete with the filling.

Helpful!

Helpful!

Next, I tried Bon Appetite's and Smitten Kitchen's hamantaschen doughs. I liked them equally, but I ultimately prefer Smitten's because the technique (with some of my lazy-person changes) is quick and easy.

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Internet research led me to fiddle with oven temperatures and try resting the formed cookies in the fridge for 20 minutes before baking, but ultimately, neither significantly changed anything for the better. My cookies aren't going to win any beauty contests, but the all more or less stay together.

Halva Hamantaschen

For the dough:
4 Tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Heaping ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 ¼ cups + 2 Tbsp flour

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl in the microwave until just melted. I like to melt the butter about 2/3 of the way and then stir it to let the heat from the melted part take care of the rest. Let cool slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Let the teaspoon runeth over slightly to add extra vanilla flavor.

Add the eggs one at a time and whisk each one until fully combined.

Add the salt and baking powder and stir with a spatula.

Add 1.5 cups of flour and stir until just combined. Add the other 3/4 cup of flour and stir again. Add the final 2 Tbsp and, either working hard with the spatula or using your hands, mix until just combined. The dough should feel very dense and not sticky.

Divide the dough into two discs, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes in the freezer.

 

For the halva filling:
1 cup raw, shelled pistachios, toasted
¼ cup tahini, well mixed
5 Tbsp honey
1 large egg
¼ tsp baking powder
1.5 Tbsp flour
Zest of 1 large lemon

Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the nuts for about 5 minutes or until they become fragrant and slightly darker. Transfer to a food processor

Add the other ingredients and pulse until the mixture becomes a paste. Some of the pistachios will remain whole or in large pieces, which is absolutely fine. The batter will seem too loose, but don’t worry: This is about to chill in the fridge while you roll out and cut your cookie dough and will tighten up quite a bit.

 

To assemble the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 (if not already done when toasting the nuts).

Roll out your cookie dough on a lightly floured surface or a piece of parchment paper until about 1/8 inch thick. You want the dough thin-ish because it puffs up in the oven, but not see-through because it will become crunchy.

Cut out 2 ½ inch circles. Each disc of dough should yield about 24 circles. I would discard the rest because it will likely be overworked and have too much flour after being rolled 2-3 times.

Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place 1 SCANT tsp of the halva filling in the center of the circle and then pinch all three sides together to form a triangle. Pinch the corners tightly so that no seems are left and a fair amount of the filling is covered by dough to avoid spillage during baking.

Sprinkle the tops generously with coarse sugar (demarara or turbinado work best) and bake for 110-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. You are looking for light browning on the corners and a puffed up, dry-looking center. These cookies go from perfectly cooked to overbaked quite fast, so if your oven runs hot, you may want to check them at 8 minutes.

Yield: 48 cookies

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Raspberry buckle

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Let's talk about the idea of healthifying desserts, shall we? Because I'm not totally sold on this strategy even though I keep doing it. Part of me thinks that boosting nutrition and finding balance (you can eat coffee cake, just make it a spelt coffee cake with less sugar, less gluten, and more protein!) is always good. But alternatively, might I actually indulge less if I just ate a small amount of the high fat, high sugar baked thing instead of trying to make spelt happen? Am I just kidding myself that a whole grain, barely sweet version is going to cut it when my real craving is for the doughy, crumbly, buttery, brown sugary coffee cake of my summer-on-the-jersey-shore dreams?

Ugh. If only there was one straightforward strategy that would always work.

I guess a wiser person than me would just accept that what we need from day to day or hour to hour can change. But I like predictability and this isn't cutting it.

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But, for now, we have an ever-so-slightly healthified raspberry buckle that is legitimately delicious on its own merits. I started with a recipe from King Arthur Flour and swapped out spelt flour for most of the white flour and reduced the amount of overall sugar.

I mostly left the crumble topping alone. I always want the first bite to pack more of a punch, which masks some of the healthier swaps later.

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I've made this cake without fruit which produces a straightforward coffee cake that's light and airy and not too sweet. I've also swapped coconut sugar for the brown sugar in the actual cake and it's good, but not great. The texture and bake time are the same, but I could really taste the coconut sugar and I didn't completely love it.

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This recipe also works best in a 9x9 pan. If you only have an 8x8, reduce the amount of batter in the pan by about 1/2 cup and either bake the extra in a ramekin or toss it. Or, if you have a deeper 8x8 pan (one with higher sides), you can bake the whole recipe, but may need a few extra minutes at the end.

Raspberry buckle
 

For the streussel topping:
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp white sugar
½ cup AP flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt

For the cake:
2 Tbsp butter, melted slightly
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup milk (I use whole, but any will do)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup apple sauce
1½ cups spelt flour
½ cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (do not defrost)

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, melt the 4 Tbsp of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Cut up the butter and add the rest of the streussel topping ingredients. Mix with a fork until the mixture is fully combined and the texture of wet sand. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter for 20 seconds in the microwave. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Measure the milk. Add the egg and whisk lightly. Add to the sugar and butter and stir well to combine. Add the vanilla and apple sauce and stir again.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until no streaks of flour remain.

Gently fold in the raspberries.

Pour the batter into a greased 9x9 pan and top with the streussel mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield: 16 squares

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