Sunday, 10 February 2013
Middle Eastern blood orange cake
I fancied baking something completely different and outside of my comfort zone this week. When I saw blood oranges for sale I realised I had never eaten one, let alone baked with one. I bought the oranges and then set about finding a recipe.
This recipe is from Claudia Roden’s 'A Book of Middle Eastern Food'. I think of Claudia Roden as the Delia Smith of Middle Eastern cookery i.e. she’s totally reliable! I’ve made several dinners from her recipes but never a cake so what a cracking recipe to start with!
The cake lacks two of the most common cake ingredients – butter and flour. It is packed with eggs and almonds though, so that’s the first indication it will be fragrant and moist.
Boiling the oranges was certainly one of the odder things I’ve done (in the kitchen). The smell while they were cooking was heavenly – the room had a gorgeous light citrus-y aroma that lingered long after the cooking was over. Here is what a boiled orange looks like:
My blood oranges weren’t particularly dark in colour. I was hoping for blood red and actually got a faint pink tinge that looked like my oranges were a little embarrassed about something. Still, the puree had a wonderful rich colour:
The batter was much looser than a normal cake batter...
... more like a pulpy smoothie drink. I was worried whether it would set during baking; it does but the finished cake is juicier than a sponge and the wet texture is a surprise on the first bite! (NB. The texture does firm up on subsequent days ending up almost like that tight baked cheesecake texture. I recommend baking it at least one day before you wish to serve it.) All the fruity juices give the cake a wonderfully sticky exterior, particularly the top:
I have been baking pretty much every weekend for over seven years now and I find it thrilling that I can still find recipes completely unlike anything I’ve ever made before. It really is impossible to ever say you’ve ‘mastered’ baking or done it all. How lucky I am to have such a wonderful hobby!
250g caster s
Start with the oranges: Place them (whole and unpeeled) in a saucepan and cover them in water – they will float but you want enough water so that if you hold them down they are covered.
Boil for 1 ½ hours or until they are squidgy soft but holding their shape. You might need to periodically top up the water.
I decided my oranges were ready when I could cut through the peel with the edge of a teaspoon.
Take the oranges out of the saucepan (you don’t need the water) and leave to cool.
Cut the oranges open and remove the pips then place the oranges –peel, pith et al – into a food processor and blitz until you have a thick puree.
You can prep the oranges a day in advance and keep in the fridge overnight.
Now make the cake: preheat the oven to 190ºc/ fan oven 170ºc/375ºf/gas mark 5.
Line a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
Add the ground almonds, caster sugar, baking powder and pureed oranges and mix thoroughly.
Pour into the prepared cake tin. It won’t look like a traditional cake batter – more like a very thick smoothie drink!
Bake for approximately 1 hour. If it is still very wet give it a further 10 minutes and reassess the situation then. It should look moist and almost set but not quite.
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.
Serve as either a dessert or tea time treat. Clotted cream works well!
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.