There are lots of reasons to like Bruno’s Trattoria in Brea, many of them limned by Gretchen Kurz, Orange Coast dining critic, when she reviewed the restaurant last spring. Pastas made in-house, sauces with integrity, and a range of uncommon Italian wines by the glass contribute to Bruno’s considerable charm. When my family went to Bruno’s to celebrate a birthday, we enjoyed all of the above—but also something else. One of our desserts was a delicious cake with segments of blood orange embedded in a sandy, rich batter made with ground almonds and a touch of olive oil. Bruno’s chef de cuisine Christian De La Vara was nice enough to share his recipe with Taste of Orange County.
At the restaurant the cake is sometimes made with other fruit, and the blood oranges on my garden tree aren’t quite ready yet—our canyon microclimate has its own schedule—but the striking, flavorful citrus is easy to find at farmers markets and in stores right now (Ralphs carries them from Los Alamitos-based Frieda’s, for instance). Bruno’s adds a scoop of vanilla bean gelato and a puddle of orange-based sauce dotted with drops of olive oil, but I served mine with a simple glaze and a dollop of whipped cream. Even easier would be a shower of powdered sugar. Make ahead, too; cakes with almond meal almost taste better the next day—or even the next after that.
Torta di Arance Rosse, Blood Orange Cake, From Bruno’s Trattoria
3 blood oranges, supremed—peel removed and cut into segments
(Watch a video of chef Ming Tsai supreming citrus)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup flour
1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Glaze (recipe follows)
Whipped cream, for serving
(Makes 1 cake)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line with parchment, including a ring around side.
Toss supremed blood orange segments with brown sugar, set aside.
Whisk together flour, almond flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In mixer bowl, cream butter, olive oil, and sugar until very light. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each.
Off mixer, fold in dry ingredients with spatula until just mixed. Spread batter in prepared pan and nestle in orange segments including any accumulated juice. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack 30 minutes before removing from pan.
If using, pour glaze over warm cake. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Blood Orange Glaze
½ cup blood orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Campari
Combine ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes, or until light syrup forms.