Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cake Recipe

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Have a weird amount of mandarin oranges leftover from your Imperfect Produce box? Ready to end the winter citrus orgy in your fridge? Time to make THIS CAKE, GUYS. Sticky and delicious mandarin oranges with just a hint of a molasses from the brown sugar on top of the most tender and delicate pound cake. Oh my gosh.

Giving the oranges a quick blanch helps soften the rind, and makes the whole orange easy to chew and perfect for topping a cake. Don’t skip that step.

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Yield: 1 9×5 loaf pan. Serves 8 hearty slices.

Ingredients

For Fruity Topping:

  • 3 Mandarin Oranges
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) soft butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, loosely packed
  • Pan spray

For Cake:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) soft butter
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Orange zest from 1/2 orange
  • Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 2 mandarin oranges
  •  1 1/4 cup All-purpose flour
  •  1/4 tsp baking soda
This recipe was converted from grams. Let me know in the comments if you’d like a copy of it in grams! Here’s why baking in grams is awesome. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Place rack in center of oven. Thoroughly spray loaf pan with pan spray.
  2. Prepare the fruit topping: Thickly apply 1/4 cup soft butter to bottom of greased loaf pan. Sprinkle in brown sugar, and pat down.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. While you’re waiting for it to boil, get a sharp knife, and thinly slice mandarin oranges into rounds. (If you want to make it easier on yourself, cut mandarins in half, then slice into half wheels. It’s easier to slice them when they have a flat edge to rest on your cutting board.) Once water is boiling, put your slices into the pot, and lower temperature to a very gentle simmer. Poach slices for 3 minutes, making sure they don’t get jostled too hard in the pan.
  4. Remove slices from pot using a spider or slotted spoon, and place in flat layer on a plate. Put plate into freezer just for a few minutes – this is to stop the cooking process of the oranges AND to make them a touch-able temperature.
  5. Once your oranges are cool to the touch, pull them out of the freezer. Place mandarin slices on top of brown sugar, gently overlapping. Keep in mind fruit will shrink up while cooking. (If you look at the cake in my pics, there’s quite a few gaps in fruit. It’s no biggie, but y’know…) Depending on how many slices you get, you may not need all your fruit. Make it pretty. Make it nice. Set aside loaf pan and start making the cake.
  6. Make the cake: cream together butter and white sugar. Use either a standing mixer or a hand mixer.
  7. Crack eggs into medium bowl. Into the same bowl, put your sour cream, vanilla extract, orange zest, lemon zest, and orange juice.
  8. In a small bowl, place your flour and baking soda. Whisk together.
  9. With mixer going, alternate adding small amounts of sour cream/egg mixture and dry ingredient mixture. Make sure you have an even mix before adding more.
  10. Once fully mixed, place cake mix into prepared loaf pan. Smooth out with spatula.
  11. Bake in oven, checking after 40 minutes – but it will probably take about 50 minutes. Cake is done when springy to the touch, and wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.
  12. Pull cake from the oven, and let cool 5 minutes. Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the edges of the cake to help loosen the sides. Then, carefully invert pan onto serving platter, removing pan slowly. Ta da! Your beautiful cake!
  13. Allow to cool more before serving. It’s best slightly warm with a slap of freshly whipped cream with loads of vanilla (or RUM!) in it.

 

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Phineas the Pig Skull Goes to a New Home

phineas head on

About two months ago, the butchers gave me another pig skull. I couldn’t say no to the skull, and I also decided I couldn’t have more than three pig skulls in my tiny Portland apartment (that I share with a very patient and cool roommate.) So I decided that if I was going to preserve this piggy, that I needed to give him a new home beyond my shelves.

alex and phineas

Alex and Phineas, perched on the artsy stump outside my apartment that I take pictures on. Duh.

I asked the butcher if he would like the finished skull and he responded that while he would personally love it, his girlfriend would probably scream…which is a pretty common response (either people are fanatical about pig skulls or they start screaming, I’ve found.)

My friend & co-worker Sarah was more than excited to give Phineas a new home, and especially when she found out his name was going to be Phineas. I try to not push a name onto a skull, and instead wait for the name to arrive organically for the skull (whatever the hell that actually means. When it feels right to me, it  feels right to me). The name Phineas came to me rather quickly – on the way into his first soak, actually.

All of the pigs I’ve received have holes in their skulls. I was originally told they were bullet holes, though I’ve had a lot of people also suggest that they are air compression holes. Either way, it can be pretty intense to look at, and Phineas’ hole was quite brutal. The shattering in his skull really resonated with me, and I became fixated on the hole (yeah yeah, “that’s the name of my porno.”)

phineas profile

It made me think of the story of Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman, who survived getting a large iron rod through his skull. SAY WHAT.

phineas gagePhineas_gage_-_1868_skull_diagram

What?

I asked some friends of mine who tend to have more access to railroad spikes if I could forever-borrow one to pop into Phineas’ hole. While I received resounding “Oh yeses!”, it turns out these friends don’t have great follow-through (love you both though.) I’m still in the market for a small railroad spike or “small iron rod”, in case anyone else has something they’d like to offer me.

 

Anyhow, Sarah came and picked up Phineas the other day, and I’m so happy he got to go to such a loving home.

sarah and pigs

Phineas’ new mother, Sarah, who I believe is demonstrating here the proper technique for opening up a plastic bag. You can also see in this pic what a great color Phineas is. Hooray for long hydrogen peroxide soaks!

 

Honestly, it felt pretty weird having a skull to share with another person. The first time I took a skull home, I felt like it was a strange and dirty secret. I had to hide it from my weird landlord at the time, and I kept it soaking in hot, soapy water in a mop bucket (don’t do that, BTW) up in my apartment for a day – too scared to take it out or look at it. I woke up one morning, and freaked out about it –

“I have a skull just sitting in my room. I’ve gone off the deep end.”

Though it was a weird thing, it was mine. After a big move across the country, I had very few possessions, very few things I could really call my own, and no decoration at all in my apartment. Just this skull. It’s become a totem of a time in my life, a reminder of where things were at, and something I’m happy now to talk about with people, but also never would want to give away. Sadly, he’s not in fabulous condition, but hopefully he’ll survive quite some years.

phineas all pigs

Here’s the whole Skull Family Robinson, spending some quality time together before sending Phineas off to his new home. Left to Right: Wifi, Piggy Stardust, Lucretia & Phineas.

I’ve really had no idea how to clean skulls this whole time, and Phineas is the first skull that I’ve preserved correctly (and it shows! He looks so beautiful!). If you’re interested in preserving skulls, and you’ve read my other blog posts on preserving Lucretia – you shouldn’t follow my methods (but you should read the blog post anyway, because I am so fun!). What you should do is go over to  the Bonelust Blog that Jana Miller runs and get advice from her. She recently commented on one of my posts and gave me some great advice, and a well-deserved tsk-ing.

I’m more than happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability, and direct you to any info that might be helpful.

Cooking Carbonara from Google Translate: 5 Mistakes to Avoid Absolute

Just in case you thought cooking wasn’t very tricky, try cooking from translated recipes on the internet.

OF course, Google translate is doing a great job, but it still opens up a rather surreal universe of language.

I’m drinking wine and eating scones. Humm dee dum. Having a bit of a hysterical joy ride on the internet tonight, (which, I suppose that is my disclaimer: hysterics) and decided to start researching Eastern European dessert recipes, most of which I have no idea what they’re talking about.

And then I stumbled on an article titled

“Carbonara do not fear: here are five mistakes to avoid absolute”

and I said “yes yes yes! Give me the mistakes to avoid absolute!”

Here are my favorite bits, copied and pasted, with some commentary:

carbonara-mod

1. We start from fried . A moment, which fried?” WHICH FRIED INDEED??!! I believe it’s saying to not bother with onions or garlic, which honestly skipping garlic on carbonara seems like bad news to me, but who am I. Who the crap am I. Who am I? I start from fried.

 2. pillow or bacon? By the way are two different products. I understand why the pillow has a fat mass greater than that of the bacon and its flavor, then, will be decided. The fact is that I advise you to use the first, if you will be blameless. But woe, I say, woe to you if you dare to throw the bacon in a frying pan. As I said in the video recipe, I could pick you look under the house! Being always in chapter pillow, I would recommend: do not add oil in pan, there is no need. It is an ingredient that will release its fat (and especially its delicious aroma) in cooking, so why abound?😉

ok. This is really the whole reason I wanted to make this post. I’m guessing “pancetta” somehow translates into “pillow” and I find that absolutely hilarious. WHICH ONE DO WE CHOOSE?? SHALL WE DICE UP OUR PILLOWS FOR CARBONARA?? Is that a mistake to avoid absolute??

pillow pan

Here’s some original content for ya. That is actually my roommate’s Winnie the Pooh throw pillow inside of my roommate’s pan (the only pan reasonably sized to house a pillow in our apartment), and fortunately, not once did she catch me attempting to saute her pillow. Success is great absolute!!

Anyway, that was my favorite part. Keep reading if you want to look under the house.

3. The time of the eggs . Some will insist on adding them whole, creating a kind of pancake instead of a homogeneous and enveloping cream. So if it is the latter, the effect you want to create, divide the yolks from the whites and used only the first. The more correct proportion provides a head plus one whole egg yolk every three yolks: will this combination to give the right creaminess to the sauce, avoiding that too feel the taste of the eggs…” –
Fair. That’s all fair. I feel like I can follow that.

4. Cream, This Unknown . Oh no, I do not agree. Add it to the eggs is just a trick used by those who want to win easy.” Cream, This Unkown. That sounds more like a movie title to me.

Cream, This Unknown: The World Beyond the Teat

Or perhaps it’s more of a statement. Perhaps it’s a command: “Cream this unknown, Juniffer! We hate outsiders round these parts!! Now, cream them, then get me a pillow to crunch on! I’m hungry!”

 

Poor Juniffer.

 

The final mistake to Avoid Absolute:

5. Do not play with fire.” 

And finally, what pasta should we use?

“Long or short pasta? For me there is no game, I choose the classic spaghetti or those on guitar.”

Spaghetti-Guitar

via homecrux.com. This wasn’t a very easy google image search, so I hope you appreciate the visual. #yourewelcome

So essentially, for a *classic carbonara, start from fried, add a pillow to the pan (sans oil, remember), time of the eggs, disagree with the unknown cream. Finally, don’t play with the fire, and add your cooked spaghetti noodles, or your cooked guitar strings. Enjoy.

“If you want to be sure not to make mistakes, here’s my version of the heart, of course, expect to know what is your😉

 

 

 

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This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things