One of my favorite recipes in The Lazy Gourmet is this easy Orange Cake with Crème Fraîche and Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle. I love that this beautiful and delicious orange cake can be mixed together with a spoon (no electric mixer!) in one bowl. Baked in a bundt pan and finished with a rich dark chocolate glaze (that, by the way, takes two minutes to make in the microwave), it’s a bajillion times easier than even your easiest frosted layer cake. In short, it’s a cake that even a devoted non-baker, such as myself, can really impress people with.
As if that weren’t enough, Juliana and I noticed another curious, and highly appealing thing about this cake when we were testing the recipe: Men (and boys) invariably went crazy for it. Husbands, fathers, step-fathers, brothers-in-law, sons, guys from the neighborhood—literally every male human who tasted it just went nuts over it. That is how it came to be known, in Lazy Gourmet Land, as “Man Cake.”
We mentioned the Man Cake phenomenon at one of our recent bookstore events and an audience member asked why we thought it was that the male species was so gaga over this particular confection. I threw out my own totally untested and entirely unproven theory that men just like food with a lot of fat and intense flavors. Another audience member, who happened to work in the food science division of Lawrence Livermore Labs, piped up to inform us that, lo and behold, there might be some actual science behind my cockamamey theory. It turns out that men may have fewer taste buds, on average, than women.
It was Yale School of Medicine professor Linda Bartoshuk, the scientist who coined the term “supertaster,” whose research led to this idea that women may be “better” tasters than men. What Bartoshuk found was that supertasters, who have at least twice as many taste buds as the average person, are more sensitive to certain flavors: some vegetables taste extremely bitter, chiles taste exceedingly hot, and sugar intensely sweet. Bartoshuk also identified “nontasters,” who have fewer than average taste buds and tend to prefer the flavors of sugar, alcohol, and fat. According to Bartoshuk’s research, about 25 percent of the population falls into the supertaster category, but among American adults, the distribution is skewed between women, of whom about 35 percent are supertasters, and men, who only make up about 15 percent of the supertasters. The conclusion? On average, women have more taste buds than men.
All things considered, I’m not entirely convinced that these findings really explain the universal man-love for our rich, sweet, chocolatey cake, but whatever. I’ll leave the science to the scientists, and the complicated layer cakes to the bakers. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen whipping up a Man Cake for my husband. It’s the perfect easy dessert for Father’s Day.Print
This easy orange cake recipe can be stirred together in a single bowl (no electric mixer needed!). A glaze of rich dark chocolate makes it divine.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup crème fraîche (or substitute sour cream)
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 2 large oranges
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (from about 1 orange)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle (see recipe below)
For the Drizzle:
- 1/3-½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, chopped
- Pinch of salt
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Oil or butter a 10-inch Bundt pan or 9-inch round cake or springform pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together crème fraîche, oil, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, and vanilla.
- Add eggs and whisk until incorporated.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk until just combined. (Don’t worry if there are small lumps; you don’t want to overmix this cake or it will become dry.)
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven, place the pan on a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the pan by running a knife around the side of the pan and inverting it directly onto the wire rack. (If you’ve baked the cake in a flat-bottomed round cake pan rather than a Bundt pan, invert the cake onto the rack and flip it over so that the bottom of the cake, not the top, is resting on the wire rack—otherwise you’ll end up with unattractive indentations from the cooling rack on the top.)
- Let cool completely.
- Transfer to a large plate or cake platter before glazing.
- When cake is completely cooled, drizzle the chocolate glaze over it until covered to your liking (you may have extra glaze left over) and let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour before serving.
- Serve at room temperature.
For the Drizzle:
- Place 1/3 cup of the cream along with the butter, chocolate, and salt in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 1 minute, or until ream begins to boil.
- Stir to melt butter and chocolate. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a touch more of the cream and stir to combine.
Makes about 3/4 cup.