Sunday, 15 February 2015

Blood orange and almond sponge

When I saw some beautiful blood oranges for sale I bought two without really knowing what I was going to do with them.  Did I mention how beautiful they were?  Having given the matter some thought, I decided on a blood orange upside down cake but wanted something a little more than a standard sponge.  One of my first ever posts, way back in the mists of 2007, was an almond sponge.  I have taken this recipe and switched the variety of sugar (from caster to soft light brown) and added some zest. 

Orange and almond is a lovely combination – both add so much in terms of flavour and texture.  The first hit is the sharp citrus zing of the orange, then the almost creaminess of the almond takes over.  The cake keeps beautifully for days; it actually improves with age as the almond releases its oil…I think this is almond’s greatest gift to baking!

Blood oranges can be a bit of a lottery; until you cut it open you never know whether it will look disappointingly like an ordinary orange or gloriously, glowing red.  Mine had flashes of red but weren’t the vivid red I was hoping for.

This post will be my last for a while.  I’m going to take a short break from blogging.  If I’m honest, I feel like I’ve lost my baking mojo of late; I haven’t yet settled into my new kitchen and need to have a tinker with the layout to get things right so I feel happy and relaxed again during my baking.  Fear not – I am the Arnold Schwarzenegger of baking….I will be back!


For the blood oranges:
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g soft light brown sugar
2 blood oranges, peeled and cut into slices

For the sponge:
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g soft light brown sugar
4 eggs
Grated zest of one blood orange
1 teaspoon almond extract
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g ground almonds


Preheat the oven to 160C/fan oven 140C/325F/gas mark 3.

Line a 20cm round with baking paper.  It is advisable to wrap the outside of the tin with foil in case the oranges ooze juice during baking – better to have a sticky tin, than a sticky oven!

Start by making the blood orange layer: beat together the butter and sugar until it is whippy and well combined. 

Spread, as best you can, over the bottom of the cake tin.

Lay the blood orange slices over the bottom of the cake tin – pack them in as tightly as you can so it will look pretty when you turn the cake out (the bottom during baking will become the top when the cake is turned out).

Now make the sponge: beat together the butter and sugar until the batter is light and fluffy looking.  Do not skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Beat in the orange zest and almond extract.

Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.  It will be  a firm batter but this is ideal as it will absorb the orange juice and hold its shape.

Spoon the batter over the blood oranges, taking care not to disturb them.

Level the surface and then spread the batter from the centre out to the edges so it ends up with a dip in the centre i.e. the batter is higher at the edges than the centre.  This will help keep the top level during baking; the top will become the base of the cake when baked so keeping it level will save having to cut any cake away when baked.

Bake for approximately 1 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out cleanly. (Start testing the cake after an hour and 10 minutes).

Let the cake cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.  If the top of your cake has peaked during baking, level the surface with a knife before turning out.

Leave to cool completely on the wire rack.

Serve either on its own, or with a blob of cream.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Anonymous said...

I look forward to these updates every Sunday so I really hope you settle into the kitchen soon. Baking is my happy thing, you always have fantastic inspiration for tweaks and changes. Take as long as you need :)

Dipika said...

Oh this looks lovely! I love the idea of using an almond sponge for an upside down cake. I hope you're back soon :o)

Choclette Blogger said...

Blood oranges are marvellous. I didn't buy any this year but was lucky enough to get some deep red ones last year and made a gorgeously coloured blood orange curd.

I've just posted a grapefruit and almond cake and very nice it was too, so I'm pretty certain yours would be very tasty indeed.

Sorry to hear you've lost your baking mojo, but hopefully once you get used to your new kitchen it will be back. Good luck.

Maggie said...

When I was a child we always ate blood oranges and I swear they were red! Maybe they mess around with them these days?
Hope you get back to baking soon:)

Lisa Cookwitch said...

I rather like this idea, will give it a try.

My Everything to do with Cooking mojo has tried to leave recently. Maybe it's the weather...

Cakelaw said...

This cake looks lovely! I know what you meran about needing a break sometimes. Hope to see you back in this space soon.

Millymollymandy said...

Another one of your recipes I'm going to bookmark - I love cakes with ground almonds in, plus orange favouring! Enjoy your break, but please don't be away too long. :-) Yours is the only food blog I follow (all the rest are gardening/nature/wildlife), but I do love cakes! :-)

Katie said...

You can't beat almondy cakes. This one looks fantastic. I love the tint of pink in it from the blood oranges. I'd be tempting to drizzle it with custard so I could eat another slice for pudding

sensibilia said...

Have a good break, and hope you get used to your new kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a good break. I for one am going to miss my "fix" of your recipes. Your blog is the place I look to for inspiration in my baking - some of your recipes have now become our family favourites. (Please come back soon)
Jane W

Janine said...

Gorgeous cake!

Snowy said...

Love the almond sponge cake, and using blood oranges is a great idea.
Hope you get your mojo back soon, as you'll be greatly missed.

Stuart Vettese said...

Lovely cake CC - don't stay away too long, we'll miss you :(

Jenny Beck said...

I will miss your blog so much - I hope that you enjoy your rest & rediscover your mojo!! In the mean time I shall work my way through your older posts to get my caked crusader fix!!

Kate Glutenfreealchemist said...

What a beautifully moist cake. I love orange cake and made one just a few days ago. Almonds are always amazing.... we use them a lot in GF baking and they do really improve the texture and life of a cake.
Sorry to hear your mojo is off-beam! I'm sure with a break you'll be back on track. Hopefully hear from you again soon. Take care x

Sumaiyyah said...

Dear CC. Your blog is one of the first that I go to when I feel like baking. The truth is, though, sometimes I come here to read what you write just because it cheers me up! Hugs and kisses!

Lisa from @intotheglade said...

Dear CC, another lovely bake! I hope you are back soon but we will all be patient and wait until you are ready! Take care Lisa x

Jo said...

Your cake still looks really pretty, even if it wasn't the strong blood red colour you were hoping for. Orange and almond sounds like an excellent flavour combination.

Hope your little break restores your baking mojo. I think you've done incredibly well to keep posting regularly since your house move. It takes a while to settle into a new space and figure out an unfamiliar oven.

Babsie said...

This cake looks so delicious, I hope I can find a couple of decent blood oranges and make it. I also hope that you find your mojo and come back to us. I sing your praises to my husband nearly every day. I LOVE your blog. We moved at the end of August last year, and I know how difficult it is to get used to a new kitchen/layout. Come back soon!

Baking Addict said...

The blood oranges look great in the cake and orange and almond is definitely a classic combination. Sorry to hear you've lost your baking mojo - I look forward to reading your posts every week. Hope you settle in quickly and can't wait to see your blog when you're back. Good luck :)

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

Hi CC! Enjoy having a bit of break from blogging and enjoy your lovely new kitchen. Look forward to hearing how baking in your new kitchen goes. Take care and all the very best x

Sharrieboberry said...

Hi CC, I hope your baking energy is up and glowing soon!

I appreciate your energy, your photos, and your writing and look forward to your return.

Maybe longer sun-shiney days will help!

anna @ annamayeveryday said...

Love blood oranges, such a seasonal treat, bet they were a delicious combination with the almonds...

Anonymous said...

We miss you!

suesaxony said...

Please start blogging again - this was my weekly Sunday fix of baking vicariously. Now, I actually bake - I always did, but not every week. Great, you may say - I say not great, I've gained a stone, my husband and sons have gained weight. I bought a kitchen aid so I'm broke too! Come on CC. Even if it is just a friendly chat on a baking theme, rather than a recipe, you need to get back in the game! Pretty please?

Claire Gordon said...

Come back! I hope you are enjoying your time away from blogging and have sorted out your kitchen. But come back soon. I'm missing your blog. X x x

sensibilia said...

Hope you are OK .... You've been gone a long time .... Best wishes hope you've not lost your lovely hobby, anyway.....

Lucy said...

What a shame I've only just seen this post and blood orange season is past - have bookmarked it for next year. Completely understand the loss of baking mojo that a kitchen move can cause having just had that exact problem myself - looking forward to reading more delicious posts on your return.

Lisa Shannon said...

You are missed CC p, I hope you are ok xxx