The flight from San Diego to San Francisco seemed so short that by the time I got my complimentary drink I had to suck it down as the plane was descending. Even worse, I suddenly realized the woman in front of me was screaming with delight, her legs stuck up in the air because the brown paper bag full of oranges I had stuck under the seat was emptying out and oranges were rolling fast towards the front of the plane. Hoping that they wouldn’t make me pick up the 30 or so oranges scattered all over the floor, I grabbed the bag, folded it shut, and hurried off the plane, head down.
Stanford used to be a very successful madam during Prohibition and eventually became the mayor of Sausalito.” I didn’t believe him, but he insisted that it was true. When Sally got back into the limo I did all I could not to stare at her.
Those oranges were gone in a day or two, because for me there is nothing better than freshly squeezed orange juice. This week’s recipe is for orange marmalade cake, also a favorite.
Orange Marmalade Cake
adapted from: Molly Wizenberg
1 large orange or 2 tangerines, mandarins, or clementines
6 ounces almond flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
½ tsp. table salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting the top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°
Lightly butter a 9” springform pan
Yes, this really happened, and luckily I escaped before they found out. By the time I got to the baggage claim area the paper bag was in shreds. An elderly woman was sitting in a wheelchair and I asked her if I could leave my bag next to her while I picked up my suitcase. We started talking and she offered to give me a ride to the city, handing me a business card that read: Sally Stanford, Vice Mayor Sausalito. I didn’t recognize her name, having just moved to San Francisco a few weeks before, but was impressed by “vice mayor”. She seemed safe enough, so I accepted her offer and the chauffeur put my bags in her car (a limousine!).
I was pinching myself, a free ride into San Francisco in a limo—score! She also had a TV network executive with her, who, she explained, was accompanying her back after a couple days of consulting on a film production about her life. Sally and I sat in the back of the limo with a huge fruit basket between us. I felt like Alice in a scene from Wonderland sitting next to this tiny woman as she took long puffs from a lengthy silver cigarette holder, her powder blue eyelids growing heavy as she inhaled. As the smoke circled her head, she told the chauffeur to drive around the financial district and pointed out a building here and a block there that had been given to her by one of her husbands. I think she said there had been three. We stopped at a hardware store in Japantown and she took the TV exec inside to buy him a wok. While they were in the store, the chauffeur leaned over the front seat and as if he couldn’t wait to shock me said “I bet you don’t know who you are talking to. Sally
Fill a medium sized saucepan with about 4 inches of water and bring to a boil. Put the orange and lemon into the pan and lower the heat slightly. You want the water at a medium boil. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain the water and let the fruit cool. When it is cool enough to hold, scoop out the flesh. At this point the skin is very soft and will tear easily, so carefully scrape as much of the pith off as you can. Put into a food processor and grind until fine. Set the zest aside.
Combine the dry ingredients: almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt, sift into a medium bowl, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer until they are light and lemon yellow, add sugar and beat for a couple minutes until combined. Add dry ingredients and olive oil in three parts, ending with the oil. Using a hand spatula, gently fold in the zest, making sure it is spread throughout the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 50 minutes. Check the cake is done with the toothpick test. A clean toothpick is a perfect cake. Cool in the pan. When it is completely cooled you can sprinkle powdered sugar on the top if you’d like.
Note: For a design on the top of the cake you can place a paper doily or a big maple leaf (or some other pretty leaf from your garden) on top of the cake, and then sprinkle powdered sugar over the whole cake. Carefully lift the leaf off the top and you will have a lovely leaf pattern on the cake.
Note: You can also use a 8” springform pan (the cake in the pictures was made in an 8” pan); just start checking the cake for doneness at about 40 minutes.