So listen, should you ever find yourself in possession of 15 pounds of satsumas, say because of a killer sale last Friday at Whole Foods, a sale you’d been anticipating for days, Googling recipes and wondering about things like satsuma ice cream or satsuma salad or satsuma marmalade or jam, and you’d teamed up with your brother-in-law’s one box in order to bring your combined total up to three, knowing the store gives a fourth box free, and so you’d wandered out Friday night, box and box and box of tiny oranges in your cart, here is what you should do:
To start, give some away. After all, it’s Christmastime, the season of celebrating what is the Greatest Gift, so why not extend the December 25 presents all month long? It will make you feel happy and joyful, in the same way that celebrating your first Christmas with your new husband tends to do, and, combined with your every-other-day Advent calendar and newly purchased Fraser fir and bright red pillows on the sofa, this small act of giving unexpected gifts, even little ones like boxes of oranges, will feel like this special tradition, this special Christmas memory between the two of you.
Then, with the box you have leftover, come home, set your oranges on the counter, and eat them, remembering how much you love their easy peels and sweet, sweet mandarin flavor. Have a satsuma when you get up in the morning or before bed at night. Take some in the car or in your lunch each day.
But before they’re all gone, and trust me, you’ll be glad you did this, save three or four and bake.
Bake this satsuma layer cake.
The idea for this cake came from a picture I saw on Flickr, one I cannot find today, of a tall cake, made up of three or four layers of white or yellow cake, sandwiched around thick, white frosting, with round rows of orange pieces all over the top. There was no recipe and no link for more info, but the image stuck with me: before we left for Whole Foods Friday night, I told Tim, I want to make a satsuma layer cake!
So Saturday afternoon, while Tim was building a buffet for our living room, using that mental image of the satsuma cake I’d seen, I set to work: I took round layers of moist yellow cake, made for my first time with a blend of unusual ingredients like white spelt flour and olive oil and yogurt, and I layered them with a simple, thinned-out cream cheese frosting infused with satsuma zest. Individual pieces of satsumas decorated the middle layer, and neat, round rows of them piled up on top.
When the cake was first finished, the layer with oranges looked like it had space between it, as if the fat slices of satsumas were holding up the cake. But within a few hours, everything cemented together, beautifully, perfectly, like a fancy bakery cake that was just the right sweetness and texture, with bursts of juicy orange in every bite.
We ate some Saturday night, after celebrating this Christmas month with a free showing of It’s a Wonderful Life put on by Nashville’s Wonderful Life Foundation, and Tim looked at me, and I kid you not, told me this was the best thing I’d made him in a while.
So if you don’t take my word on it, take his.
And then prepare to wish satsumas were on sale every week.
Satsuma Layer Cake
Makes one (3-layered, 9″) round cake
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup Sucanat (alternate: brown sugar), ground in a food processor
3/4 cup palm sugar (alternate: white sugar), ground in a food processor
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups white spelt flour (alternate: all-purpose flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans. (Confession: I still have my cake pans in Illinois, so I used two glass baking dishes that were round, and I sliced one cake in half horizontally to create three layers. Three cake pans would be ideal.)
In a large bowl, cream the butter, olive oil and sugars (i.e., Sucanat and palm sugar) together. Note that I ground my unprocessed sugars in a food processor ahead of time, just to get them a little more fine for the sake of the cake texture. Beat in the four eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl, combine milk, yogurt and water.
Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately to the butter-sugar mix. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake cakes for 30 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before slicing.
When ready, spread cream cheese frosting between layers, adding satsuma pieces to the second layer. Top the cake with satsumas all the way around.
Cream Cheese Frosting
I was eyballing the sugar, flour and milk here, so my amounts aren’t exact–however, that may still be helpful as you can adjust to your tastes. Oh, and don’t panic if the mixture starts to look a little like cottage cheese, by the way. Mine did, but it was delicious.
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
The zest of one satsuma orange
Organic powdered sugar, to taste
Milk, to desired consistency
Combine ingredients in a bowl, adjusting sugar and milk until frosting is desired taste and consistency. You may also add a little water if you want to thin it out more.