The recipe started off, though, with some grumbling on my part. It directs you to boil two quartered oranges not once, but three — no, four — times. You bring the oranges to the boil, drain them, then repeat twice. This presumably draws off the bitterness in the peels. It wasn't so much of an inconvenience, though, I realized. After that the oranges simmer in a sugar syrup for about 45 minutes until they are tender.
After that the cake is a snap. You whiz the oranges with flour, sugar, and baking soda, and a few other things in the food processor (or, in my case, the blender). The only oil or fat (other than the eggs) comes from 6 tablespoons of olive oil. But this doesn't mean that the cake is dry. Oh no — it turns out delightfully damp and springy, with all the dark flavor latent in oranges.
I did change a couple things. The recipe doesn't call for salt in the batter; I added a pinch or two. I also skipped the extra glaze of fresh orange juice and powdered sugar that the recipe calls for. It seemed criminal to waste the delicious and more sophisticated orange syrup left over from simmering the oranges. So I poked holes in the cake after it came out of the oven and poured this over. I am sure it would be a bit brighter with the glaze, and I will try it next time, but this was just delicious, too.
Overall, this is one you have just got to try. It also holds beautifully; we've been sneaking slivers off for breakfast and snacks the last several days, and it's just as moist and tender as it was the day it was made.
• Get the recipe: Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake at Saveur
Related: New Favorite: Lemon Olive Oil Cake
(Images: Faith Durand)