This is similar to pan d'Espanya (Spanish bread), which is what Sephardic Jews call sponge cake. Brushing the honey-orange syrup over the warm cake infuses it with moisture and delicate aromas. For a second-day treat, try toasting a leftover slice. Garnish with orange rind curls and star anise.
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon aniseed, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped peeled pear (about 3)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°.
To prepare cake, coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 tablespoons flour. Set aside.
Place sugar and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until thick and pale (about 3 minutes).
Lightly spoon 3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, aniseed, salt, and cinnamon, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine rind, 1/2 cup juice, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with juice mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; blend after each addition just until combined. Stir in pear and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula or knife. Place a plate upside down on top of cake pan; carefully invert cake onto plate.
To prepare syrup, combine honey and 2 tablespoons juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Brush warm syrup over top and sides of cake. Cool completely.
I think this cake is delicious! I took it to my tapas-themed supper club this week and to a friend's house last night, and it was well-liked by everyone. It was especially good straight out of the oven! I did have to cook it about 8 minutes longer than the recipe called for because it was a bit gooey in the middle at 55 minutes. Otherwise, I followed the directions exactly and loved it! This would be a wonderful Christmas cake, as the flavors and smells are very warm and holiday-ish!
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