We’ve all been there. I’ve been there more than once. There was the cream of mushroom soup I had right before getting sick on Vicodan when my wisdom teeth were removed, the vegetarian samosa I ate from a street food cart in Bath, England that made me queasy for the rest of the day, the peach Schnapps that I still cannot drink to this day after one too many nights indulging in college… we all have foods that we have avoided for months and sometimes even years because we had the misfortune to be sick right after eating them. And it is (almost) always a shame. When I think of the years I spent avoiding Indian food because the smell of samosas made me queasy! Samosas! Indian food! ME!!
So I owe the country of Morocco an apology. The fact is, I fully intended to come home from Morocco whipping up tagines, baking amazing basteeya… I just did not count on getting so sick in Morocco that the idea of many Moroccan dishes to this day makes me a little queasy. And so the whole spice ras el hanout I carefully brought home has sat in my pantry untouched. Until now.
When Anuradha of Baker Street announced that this November the theme for #BundtaMonth would be “Spice” I was quite excited. As most of you know, I keep a pretty extensive collection of spices on hand for all of the international cooking that I do, and this seemed like a great excuse to experiment with something unusual. At first I was thinking Indian–but many Indian blends (or masalas) have savory spices in them like cumin or coriander that I just could not envision in a bundt cake. Then I remembered the neglected ras el hanout sitting in my pantry from Marrakech.
Spices I know I recognized: cardamom, cloves, star anise, black peppercorn, cinnamon, orange peel, mace, allspice maybe?, green peppercorn maybe?, white peppercorns maybe?…
Ras el hanout is a spice blend used in Morocco as well as some surrounding areas that means, literally, “top of the shop” (or head of the shop), meaning the best that seller has to offer of spices. As a result it can vary wildly. As far as I could tell–but I am not expert and remember I was sick for much of the trip–it is typically sold pre-ground and therefore is a mysterious, wonderful blend of aromas. Some are red with paprika and some have no chile powder in them. John knew that while he was wandering Marrakech without me he was always to keep an eye out for finding it in whole spice form. Partially because it would last longer and partially because I might be able to play detective then and figure out what went into it.
He found it on the last day and that evening, when I deemed myself well enough to safely wander Jmaa el Fnaa for a bit, I first went straight to the shop where he found it to buy a bundle.
If you are wondering, Sammy was at a pumpkin patch/fall festival earlier in the day where they had face painting. I think it was pretty smeared by that point. I won’t lie, I am not sure because I was busy watching Michigan beat Michigan State-Go Blue!
I have to give Sammy a shout out for being a good sport when I suggested this cake as a birthday cake for her when my in laws were visiting. We do lots of birthday celebrations around here, so we also made sure to hit the biggies like mousse and cupcakes. Sammy loved the cake (even if it was not frosted or covered in bells and whistles), as did everyone else. The spices were fragrant but not strong, and nicely accented with a little orange oil. I also found a great glaze that used spices in it from Christie Matheson’s Cake Simple.
Although I get to be part of the fun, #BundtaMonth is Anuradha’s and Lora’s brainchild, so be sure to check out their posts at Baker Street or Cake Duchess. And if you want to participate, check out the guidelines below–you have until November 30! Also, the election last night has things a little crazy–if any of the links below are not working I will have them fixed by the end of the day Wednesday. Promise!
- For the cake:
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 t finely grated orange zest or a few drops about 1/8 t orange oil
- 1 T ground ras el hanout that has been toasted without large amounts of chile pepper powder, such as paprika
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil I used a fruity Spanish oil
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1-2 T whole milk or 2 t cream + 2-4 t 1% milk (for a dairy free cake use almond milk)
- 1/4 t Ceylon cinnamon
- 1/4 t ground cardamon
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar, orange zest (or oil) and ground spices at medium-high speed until smooth.
Gradually beat in the olive oil until creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating on medium speed between additions.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a parchment paper lined rack.
While cake is cooling, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth and pourable.
Let the cake cool for 45 minutes. Place wax paper under the cooling rack and remove the parchment paper that was directly under the cake. Pour the glaze over the cake. Using the wax paper under the cake (and replacing it), repeat pouring glaze over the cake, using that which dripped down. Repeat until either the cake is glazed to your taste or you run out of glaze.
Cool completely before cutting into slices and serving.
Here’s how you can join the #BundtaMonth party:
– Bake your Bundt for November following the theme – Spice(s).
– Post it before November 30, 2012.
– Use the #BundtaMonth hashtag in your title. (For exs: title should read – #BundtaMonth: Cinnamon Pumpkin Bundt)
– Add your entry to the Linky tool below
– Link back to both Lora and Anuradha’s announcement posts.
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