We all have those days that just aren’t enjoyable for one reason or another. Maybe you ran late all day long. Maybe it rained from morning until night. Maybe you’re just not feeling like yourself. Regardless of the reason, these days happen to us all, as much as we wish they wouldn’t. We have to do something to combat them, make ourselves feel better, pull ourselves out of the funk we’re in. This can be accomplished in many ways. And while I have turned to TV and movies many times to solve my woes, baking may be the best cure for our troubles.
There’s something about being in the kitchen, focusing on the task at hand that makes all my bad moments or days better almost instantly. It takes me away from my computer and smartphone. No checking if agents want to read my manuscript. No seeing if I have more comments on the blog, likes on Facebook, or followers on Twitter. Most of the time, it gives me an hour or two of bonding time with Mom. Time that I know grows shorter with each quickly passing day. Time I have learned to love and appreciate as I am experiencing it. It relieves my stress. Measuring, stirring, chopping, peeling, grating. They’re all tasks that don’t take a lot of thinking, but doing them allows my brain to wander. I come up with the best ideas and solve the most problems when I’m baking, exercising, or showering. It’s like one of the laws of thinking. It leaves me with a wonderful end product that I can be proud of, again, most of the time. Tasting the batter and eating the end product are just as stress relieving as the baking process itself, making the entire experience even more rewarding.
There are those days when I have all the time in the world and want a recipe that is going to take most of it. Those days I turn to cakes, whoopie pies, Momofuku recipes. Things that have multiple steps and will transport me from the real world to the baking world for as long as possible. But then there are those days where I don’t have the time, patience, or energy. These orange brownies fit the bill just right for one of those days.
They have few ingredients and are one of the quickest recipes I’ve made. Bright orange flavor from orange juice and zest filling both the cake and glaze, make these very enjoyable. While I really enjoyed this dessert, it was much more like a cake than a brownie or blondie. The description in the original recipe said the texture was just like that of a brownie, but it’s really not. That doesn’t make it any less delicious, particularly based on the fact that it can be whipped up on a whim. This is a light and fluffy cake. As for finding a brownie texture without using chocolate, I’m still working on that. Until then, enjoy this cake for a quick treat to help you deal with one of your bad days or make a good one even better.
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs (pasteurized if you like)
- Zest of 1 orange
- Juice of ½ orange
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8-inch square pan.
- In a large bowl, beat flour, sugar, salt, and butter with a hand mixer until fully combined and creamy.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, orange juice, and zest to combine before adding to the flour mixture and beating until the batter is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until brown around the edges and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it, rotating halfway through if necessary. Cool completely in pan.
- Make the glaze. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar and orange juice and zest until fully incorporated. Glaze should be thick but spreadable. Adding more juice or confectioners’ sugar may be necessary. Spread the glaze evenly over the brownies, cut into 8 squares, and enjoy. May be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours.