A moist, fragrant, and barely sweet vegan cake that can be a treat with tea or coffee, or enjoyed as a snack any time of day. It should be made a day in advance, and it keeps for at least a week, getting better each day if stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
My mother used to bake a cake similar to this during Lent. We were not so religious as to follow the rules of the Church, which prohibited eating any food derived from animals during the forty days before Christmas and before Easter (and on many other occasions). We were simply continuing a family tradition which dictated that various foods or sweets should be made at a particular time of year.
The caramelized ginger, my recent addition to the recipe, enhances the rich flavor of this cake that has a dense texture, somewhat like an English fruitcake.
Makes one 12 X 5 inch (30 X 12cm) cake
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar –depending on how sweet you like your cakes
1 cup light olive oil, or a mixture of olive and safflower oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brandy
1 2/3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
10-12 dried apricots, chopped, about 2/3 cup
1/2 cup chopped crystalized ginger
2/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180 C).
Line the deep loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil it. This will make removing the fragile cake from the pan easier.
Toss together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl.
Stir the sugar with the orange zest, rubbing with your fingers to mix and release the orge flavor. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil and sugar until well combined.
In a cup stir the baking soda with the brandy and add it to the oil-sugar mixture.
Make a well in the flour mixture and stir in the oil and sugar, as well as the orange juice, stirring just until smooth. Add the dried fruits and nuts and stir just until evenly distributed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for ONE hour or more, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes before carfully removing from the pan, lifting the parchment paper. Let the cake cool completely before cutting, and better show restrain and only cut after a few hours, or the next day…
If you like, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Slice and serve.