I was inspired to make this cake after being disappointed by the highly regarded olive oil cake at a nearby coffeeshop and also by the plethora of out-of-the-ordinary citrus fruits available in NYC only at this time of year. —raspberryeggplant
Test Kitchen Notes
The cake came out moist, not too sweet, lightly flavored with orange notes, and genuinely original in concept. Note: I only needed two oranges (6 ounces each) to achieve the amount of juice called for, and the instructions for including the reserved zest are missing. I lined the pan with parchment which made it really easy to remove from the pan and eliminated the floury coating on the outside of the cake. I was concerned about trying to cut through a brittle topping into a delicate cake, so I made the candied pistachios, cooled the mixture, then broke it up in a bag with a meat pounder into small pieces, then sprinkled and patted that on top. The little explosions of sugared nuts mingled with moist bites of cake proved that the results are worth the extra effort. Flavor intensifies each day. I would gladly make this cake again. - Amber Olson —The Editors
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9” × 5” loaf pan with a little bit of olive oil and flour and set aside.
Finely grate the zest of two oranges and set aside. Zest the third orange into a separate bowl and save the zest for another use.
Supreme two of the oranges over a large bowl and cut each segment in half, reserving the pieces in a separate small bowl. Squeeze as much juice as possible out of the remaining orange membranes into the bowl. Cut the remaining orange in half and juice it into the bowl. Pour all of the juice into a glass measuring cup – you should have a little more than ¼ cup.
Add whole milk to make ¾ cup of liquid and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk well to combine.
If using a large measuring cup, add the eggs, sugar, and zest and whisk well to combine. If using a small measuring cup, transfer the juice mixture back to the original bowl before adding the eggs and sugars.
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the wet ingredients and whisk until all the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 65 minutes.
Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan after 20 minutes and cool completely on the rack.
Make the candied pistachios:
Put the sugar in a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and has turned a medium amber color, about 5 minutes.
While the sugar is heating, toast the pistachios by spreading them in a single layer on a large plate and microwaving on high power for 1 minute. [Alternately, you can toast the pistachios in the oven after the cake is done – toast at 325 for about 5 minutes, just until the nuts are fragrant.] When the pistachios are cool, coarsely chop them.
When the sugar has turned amber, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the pistachios, pour the mixture over the cake, and spread with a silicone spatula. You will need to work quickly otherwise the sugar will set. Let the cake rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. [Note: the pistachios will be very crisp the first day, but within a few days, they will soften up from the moisture from the cake – they still taste great and the cake is a bit easier to cut.]