Not So Itty-Bitty, Teenie-Weenie Polka-Dot Cake

Leopard print may be so Victoria’s Secret.

And camouflage so divisive and boldly statement-oriented.

But polka dots? Who doesn’t love the whimsy of big, bright, carefree circles covering anything and everything?

Especially when it’s crowning the top of this clever cake.

“Essence of Orange-Chocolate Wafer Cake” is from Coffee Cakes: Simple, Sweet and Savory” (Chronicle Books) by Palo Alto food writer, Lou Seibert Pappas.

It’s a super moist and dense, but tender, cake strewn with bittersweet chocolate wafers to create a fun polka-dot pattern.

I used the new TCHOPro Organic Baking Drops (66 Percent Cacao), which I recently got a sample of. The chocolate discs with the deep, pronounced flavor are $8.99 for an 8-ounce bag. E. Guittard also makes great chocolate wafers.

Besides its look, the other unusual thing about this cake? It includes one whole orange. Yup, rind, flesh, pith and all — just minus the seeds. It also includes golden raisins, but you’d never know they were there.

That’s because the orange and the raisins get pulverized in the food processor until finely ground. This sticky paste is what gives the cake its moistness. The mixture is combined with butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and plain yogurt or buttermilk.

Chocolate discs are stirred into the batter before being poured into the cake pan. Then, more chocolate discs are laid over the top.

My cake took a little longer than the specified 40 minutes to bake (but I have a gas oven, too). If yours cake does, too, and it starts to brown too much, just tent it with foil to allow it to continue baking a few minutes more.

If you like candied orange rinds dipped in dark chocolate, you’ll love this cake. It tastes just like that, with a very gutsy orange flavor.

I think the cake tastes best the same day it’s made, when it’s still a little warm. But if you have leftovers, just do what I did — enjoy a slice the next day after nuking it in the microwave for a couple of seconds until the chocolate gets melty good again.

A chocolate polka-dot cake? It’s guaranteed to bring out the kid in anyone and everyone.

Essence of Orange-Chocolate Wafer Cake

(Makes one 10-inch cake; serves 10 to 12)

1 large orange, scrubbed

1 cup golden raisins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt or buttermilk

1 cup (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate wafers or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan or 9-inch square pan.

Remove a thin slice from teh stem end of the orange and cut the fruit into eighths, leaving the peel on. In a food processor, combine the orange segments and raisins and process until finely ground.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Mix in the orange mixture. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating with yogurt or buttermilk in 2 increments, beating until blended. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chocolate for topping and mix in the remainder into the batter. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate evenly over the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the pan sides. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

From “Coffee Cakes: Simple, Sweet and Savory” by Lou Seibert Pappas

More Orange Tastes: Pinched Orange Macaroons

More Orange Tastes: Orange Butter Cookies

More Orange Tastes: Braised Pork with Orange and Fennel

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