There is someone in my family, who shall remain nameless, who doesn't often get the subtleties of food. I recently watched him look at a piece of halibut and ask, "Ooh, is that chicken?" But while some of his mistakes are, seemingly, incredible (him: "so what do you call this dish?" me: "turkey chili") he's not alone in missing in the nuances of citrus fruit. I know people who think Meyer lemons are a sham, and asked to identify a tangerine they'd guess "tiny orange." But there is—I promise!—a distinct flavor to blood oranges which make them worth using for this dish.
I like to describe the taste of blood oranges as being a cross between an orange and a raspberry, with hints of ruby red grapefruit. They're both sweeter and tangier than a regular orange, and in this cake, the freshly squeezed juice makes for an especially tasty glaze. I like to use Moro blood oranges because they have the darkest flesh and give the glaze a night bring pink color, but Tarocco or Sanguinello varieties will work as well.
The cake itself is an easy pine nut pound cake. It's flavored with toasted pine nuts (you'll get a few in every bite) and vanilla. Buttermilk contributes a moist crumb. Together, it's a simple cake but one with a lot of flavor. Can you sub in lemon or regular orange? Of course. But while they're in season, give blood oranges a try and see what a difference they can make.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios