I’ve wanted to write a baking recipe for the blog using tahini for forever and now it’s finally here. Tahini by itself can be kind of bitter but in baking it lends this awesome deep nutty flavor to anything, without being so transparent as its loud cousin, peanut butter. That is, it plays much more nicely with others, such as the mandarin orange.
So this recipe technically calls for freshly-squeezed mandarin oranges. But don’t worry, it’s not as snooty as it sounds. Well it is, but I have my reasons. You can, of course, just use normal oranges for this. The whole thing about the mandarin are that they’re sweeter, which makes them a better partner for the bitter tahini. If you wanna get specific, the oranges in the photo are Satsuma Mandarins, which the Internet tells me are widely considered the best-tasting and easiest to peel of the mandarin orange world. I’d love to pretend I knew that before I bought them, but I’ll be honest–they were the only mandarins with their leaves still attached and I thought they looked pretty.
I will say that “easiest to peel” does not translate into “easiest to juice.” But if you’re determined to go against my sage advice and not use fresh-squeezed mandarins, please please at least squeeze your own normal oranges. There are plenty of places where I would recommend saving time and just buying a big jug of orange juice, but olive oil cakes are not one of them. That extra flavor and freshness that comes from fresh juice really shines here.
I did think about topping this cake with candied orange slices or mandarin segments, so you’re more than welcome to do that and it would probably look great. But I’m a sucker for that crunchy sugary crust that citrus and olive oil cakes frequently have. I can sniff out those glazed lemon poppyseed loaves a mile away.
The combination of the olive oil and the oil from the tahini keep this cake nice and moist and the crust formed by the glaze seals all that in, which is not only delicious but helps it keep fresh longer too. Make 1 or 2 or 5 of these and they’ll keep pretty fresh all week, They make great breakfasts, snacks and desserts and can be eaten plain, toasted, or smothered with marmalade or salted tahini.
As always, if you make this cake, I’d love to see it! Tag me on Instagram @nhubble or use the hashtag #followthatfork