When hosting a holiday cocktail party, be it a tree-trimming or an ugly sweater celebration, don't forget about dessert. Your guests are going to want something sweet to nibble on. Select a treat that's special but can be made in advance and supplement with store bought truffles or chocolate gelt.
For Hanukkah, I recommend this orange cake with apricot glaze. It takes advantage of the flavors of fresh citrus, which is in season. The combination of whipped egg whites and olive oil results in a super moist and fluffy cake.
The fact that there's no frosting will make it easy to eat with just your fingers. It's also a great hostess gift, so be sure to check out the recipe after the break.
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Grated zest from 3 large oranges
1 cup plus 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh orange juice (from 2 to 3 oranges)
6 extra-large eggs, separated, plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. lightly toasted chopped pecans
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup Bundt pan, dust with flour and tap out the excess.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of the sugar on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. In a bowl, using a fork, lightly beat together the olive oil, orange zest, the 1 cup orange juice, the egg yolks and vanilla. With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the oil mixture, beating until smooth and blended, 1 to 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. If any lumps remain, increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 to 30 seconds. Set aside.
Using the whisk attachment and a clean bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff and glossy peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.
Spoon half of the batter on top of the whites and gently whisk it in by hand. Spoon the remaining batter on top and fold it in with the whisk until no streaks remain. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan (it will fill it by more than three-fourths). Bake until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the apricot preserves, the 1 1/2 Tbs. orange juice and the lemon juice. Boil for 1 minute, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing the solids through the sieve. Stir the glaze to combine and let it stand just long enough so it thickens a little more but remains pourable.
Set the cake, still on the rack, over a baking sheet. Spoon the glaze over the warm cake so it coats the top and flows over the sides. Transfer the warm cake, still on the rack, to another baking sheet and repeat the process with the glaze that has dripped onto the first sheet. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the pecans. Let the cake cool completely before serving.