This cake owes its existence to the fact that I’m completely superficial.
When I was planning out the Flourless Chocolate Cake I posted a few days ago, I decided I wanted to add some orange flavor to the chocolate, and I had to have some sort of citrus accompaniment to tie everything together. What can I say? Some people lust after designer purses, I dream about food photography props and garnishes.
One grocery trip and 12 ounces of candied kumquats later, I had my bright orange garnish, my photos were delightfully literal, and all was right with the world.
The only problem was, I was left with approximately 11.5 ounces of candied kumquats. What’s a girl to do?
Well, you know what they say. When life gives you kumquats, make Raspberry Kumquat Sugar Cookie Cake.
Don’t mind if I do.
Kumquats are one of my favorite spring fruits. They’re such weird little beasts—dressed like the world’s tiniest oranges, with an edible skin and a sweet-tart, lip-puckering flavor. When they’re really good and really ripe I love them raw, but when they’re too sour I have to add a little sugar before I can enjoy them.
For this recipe I quickly candied them, to remove some of the tartness, paired them with homemade raspberry jam, and sandwiched both between a cake dough that’s sort of like a soft sugar cookie. Does that qualify as “adding a little sugar”?
The cake recipe is adapted from on of my favorite Dorie Greenspan recipes: the Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake. I’ve loved it since I first made it several years ago, and I’m delighted to say that it’s just as delicious with a raspberry-kumquat filling as it is with the original cranberry layer.
In addition to giving the recipe a little tweak, I’ve given it a new name. I never understood why she called it a shortbread cake—to me, shortbread is crisp and crumbly, while this cake is tender, with the sweet flavor of sugar cookies and a crackly sugar crust on top.
I love the combination of vibrant, fresh raspberry jam and chewy, sweet-tart candied kumquats in the center of this cake. If all of the ingredients and preparation seem a little overwhelming, I am sure this would still be delicious with your favorite store-bought jam or preserves, or even a layer of fresh berries mixed with a bit of sugar.
Just make sure you have some appropriate garnishes with which to finish the cake…you know, if you’re into superficial things like that.
Raspberry Kumquat Sugar Cookie Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cranberry Shortbread Cake in Baking: From My Home to Yours
yield: one 9-inch cake
For the candied kumquats:
12 ounces kumquats
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
For the raspberry jam:
12 ounces frozen or fresh raspberries
1-1/2 TBSP powdered pectin (I used Ball brand)
1 cup granulated sugar
For the sugar cookie cake dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
6.5 ounces (13 TBSP) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
Zest of one large orange
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the candied kumquats:
Slice the kumquats widthwise into thin rounds about 1/8-inch thick. As you slice them, remove the seeds from the fruit.
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the sliced kumquats. Simmer the kumquats in the sugar syrup until translucent and tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then remove the kumquats from the syrup using a slotted spoon.
The syrup can be saved for another use or to enjoy on top of baked goods, pancakes, or ice cream.
To make the raspberry jam:
If you’re using frozen berries, defrost them before beginning. Place the raspberries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and mash them slightly until they start giving off their juices. Add the pectin, stir it in, and bring the fruit to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Add the sugar all at once, stir well, and bring it back to a boil. Boil the jam for one minute, then take the pan off the heat and cool it to room temperature before using. If you’re in a hurry to cool the jam, spread it in a thin layer on a baking sheet, press a layer of cling wrap on top, and refrigerate it until it is no longer warm.
To make the sugar cookie cake:
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Place the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the orange zest, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, beating until they are well-incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and beat until it is almost entirely mixed in and only a few streaks of flour remain. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well-mixed.
Divide the dough into two equal balls, wrapping each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour, until it is firm enough to roll. (If it gets too chilled, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes until it softens slightly.)
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan or a cake pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray, and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Once the dough is chilled, roll out one half of the dough between two sheets of floured waxed paper. Roll it to the size of the pan, and fit it into the bottom of the pan. You can press it and work it with your fingers to get it to stretch if necessary.
Spread the raspberry jam on top of the dough. You will probably not want to use all of it—I ended up using about 3/4 of the jam and thought it was the perfect amount, but you can decide how jammy you want your filling. Sprinkle the candied kumquats on top, reserving a portion of you want to use them as garnish for the finished cake.
Roll the second piece of dough out to the same size, and carefully lift it off the waxed paper and place it on top of the cake. Again use your fingers to spread and position it as necessary. Brush the top of the cake with a thin layer of water, and sprinkle it with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Bake the cake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden, has a crackly sugar layer, and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the cake, remove the sides of the pan and let cool to room temperature. Serve the cake with whipped cream and additional candied kumquats, if desired.