I've been taking myself on more adventures lately. Nothing big or fancy, just a short jaunt every now and then to somwhere I've never been before. I love this city, but the Northwesterner in me longs for more green stuff and fresh(er) air.
I had the afternoon free last Friday and a new camera to test out so I grabbed some film, a snack and hopped an uptown train to visit Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters at the upper tip of Manhattan. The Cloisters house a collection of medieval art and architecture including some damn fine unicorn tapestries and beautiful gardens full of trees and plants depicted in the art. Pretty neat stuff.
It was cold and bright that day. When I got off of the train I noticed here were very few other people in the park, save a class of kids having lunch and a grounds keeper or two. The quiet was nice and I wandered through the park, following all of the stairways and paths I came across until I got to the museum.
Admittedly, winter wasn't the best time to visit as there wasn't much going on, but there were signs of spring popping up in the form of crocuses and hyacinths spread throughout the enclosed courtyards. There were even a few citrus trees (maybe mandarins of some sort?) full of fruit in varying stages of ripeness.
It was a wonderful, inspiring afternoon and on my way back through Fort Tryon Park I walked slowly and savored a juicy Sumo Mandarin and let my mind wander a little bit. I'll be sure to visit later in the Spring and Summer when things are a bit greener and to see the fig, quince, and apple trees heavy with fruit.
With the scent of citrus oils on my hands, I thought all of the way home about baking something light and orangey. I knew this simple gluten free cake I spotted on Simple Bites a few weeks ago and was the perfect thing to cap off the day.
Orange Almond Upside Down Cake
adapted from Simple Bites
For the Topping
1 thinly sliced navel orange
For the Cake
8oz soft butter
8oz finely ground almonds
1t vanilla extract
2T lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
zest of 1 orange
3oz fine cornmeal
1t baking powder
Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and line a 9'' cake pan with parchment paper. I obviously didn't line my pan and the cake stuck a bit, not too bad, but not good either. So don't be like me, line your pan.
For the Topping
In a medium skillet melt the butter then add the sugar. Over medium heat, cook for 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, then arrange the sliced oranges on top of the butter/sugar mixture in a single layer. You may have to slice your slices in half for this.
For the Cake
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3min. Add the almonds and mix thoroughly.
2. Add in the eggs one at a time followed by vanilla, zests, and lemon juice.
3. Fold in the cornmeal, baking powder and salt making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that the batter is mixed well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Slide into the oven and bake for 40-45min or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10min, then invert onto a plate or platter to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temp.
- This blog is a great resource for fun day trips from NYC that are accessible by subway, train and car: nycitycures.com
- The Cloisters Gardeners keep a blog too: The Medieval Gardens Enclosed