This past Saturday was my mom’s birthday.
We went into the city for a night of drinks and dinner. My aunt Kym and her friend (affectionately referred to in my family as “That-Michele-Lady”) came up for the celebration.
We started with drinks at Bar 888, a posh bar in the InterContinental Hotel in SoMa. They specialize in very fancy cocktails, most made with grappa, an Italian brandy made from grapes. From there, we walked to Chinatown and went to one of my family’s favorite Chinese restaurants, Cathay House. Great food, nice ambiance, and a great view of the California Street cable cars, right in the heart of Chinatown. We usually go at Christmas time to see the lights and window displays in Union Square, and dinner has been at Cathay House the last few years. Delish.
We finished off the night at Johnny Foley’s Irish House. Great Irish pub, with really terrific pub-style food, though we stuck to the bar that evening. Very fun, easygoing city night with the family.
Although we had a good time, I felt bad that my mom didn’t get a proper birthday dessert. Aside from fortune cookies. And, of course, lemon drops. But those don’t count
No, she definitely deserved some type of cake. And I had just the thing: cara cara and poppyseed olive oil cake.
My darling friend Kat of Mekatsu Mekatsu gave these to me. Her uncle grows them, and he gave her and her husband a bushel. She, in turn, gave some to me, knowing that I would love them. And I did.
Cara caras are a red flesh naval orange that taste like a cross between a orange and a grapefruit. Very citrusy and sweet. The flesh is a beautiful, coral color, incredibly juicy and fragrant. Yum yum yum. Perfect for an olive oil cake.
I love citrus fruits in olive oil cakes. The rich, dense quality of the cake with the bright fresh flavors of the citrus are such a great compliment. These cakes take on an almost muffin-like quality, but not dry at all. No, they are incredibly moist; crumbly and nutty from the olive oil, not-too-sweet and zesty from the cara cara. The poppyseeds add a nice little pop to the texture.
A little raspberry sauce with a splash of cara cara juice in it, and fresh vanilla whipped cream. Simple, elegant, perfectly suiting to a birthday. My mom’s birthday.
Happy Birthday to my dear mama. Thank you for giving me life, unconditional love, and a place to bake all my crazy concoctions over the past two years.
I love you Mama. THG
Cara Cara Poppyseed Olive Oil Cakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup cara cara juice
zest of 1 cara cara
1/4 cup poppyseeds
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Butter and flour a large muffin tin. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until smooth and thick. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk to incorporate. Add vanilla and whisk. Add in cara cara juice and zest and whisk until smooth and well combined. Pour in 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Repeat twice more with the rest of the flour mixture until all is combined and the batter is smooth and without any lumps. Fold in the poppyseeds until evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins about 2/3 full. Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
Makes 10-12 cakes
1 small package fresh raspberries
juice of 1 cara cara
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, cara cara juice, lemon juice and sugar over medium-high heat. Cook until bubbling. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until raspberries have broken down and mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Strain the raspberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, being sure to not allow any seeds to pass through. Stir the sauce until smooth and let cool to room temperature.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups