Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Grandpa Urchin's Tunisian Orange Cake

For my third cake this week I chose to make this deliciously sticky, sweet Tunisian Orange Cake which I (along with many others) fawned over when we tasted it at fellow blogger, Food Urchin's lamb in a pit extravaganza last summer. Sadly for poor Food Urchin, despite his best efforts to wow us all with his amazing-cooked-in-the-ground-for-10-hours lamb, it was his Dad's cake which stole the show.

So here is the recipe, reproduced with the kind permission of Food Urchin and Grandpa Urchin, for the most moist, sticky, orangey, lightly spiced cake you e'er will taste on these shores...


For the cake:

50g slightly stale white breadcrumbs
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
200ml sunflower oil
4 eggs
finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
finely grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon

For the citrus syrup:

juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
75g caster sugar
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

For the icing (optional):

The original recipe doesn't have icing, but I wanted to 'posh it up' a bit on this occasion. It really isn't necessary and you could just serve it as it is or with a dollop of yogurt or fresh cream.

2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
125-150g icing sugar
zest of ½ unwaxed orange


Line the base of a 20cm round and 5cm deep tine with greaseproof paper, then grease and flour the tin.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Whisk the oil with the eggs, then pour into the dry ingredients and then mix well. Add the orange and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into the tin, place in a cold oven and turn on the heat to 180C.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown (mine took 45 minutes). Check with a skewer by inserting it into the middle, if it comes out clean it’s done. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate.

Meanwhile, make the citrus syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves from the syrup.

While the cake is still warm, pierce it several times with a skewer, then spoon the hot syrup over the cake allowing it to run into the holes. Leave to cool. Spoon any excess syrup over the cake every now and then until it is all soaked up.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into the orange juice and zest and stir until smooth. Drizzle across the cake.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Coffee & Almond Cake

The second cake I made yesterday during my week of baking was this Coffee & Almond Cake. It's based on Mary Berry's recipe for a Gateau Moka aux Amandes which is in her Ultimate Cake Book. It's a fantastic book with recipes for pretty much every sort of cake you might want to bake - along with the Readers Digest Cookery Year, it was one of my best charity shop purchases!

I followed the original recipe for the sponge, but made an all butter coffee butter cream and used a double shot of espresso instead of coffee essence. It's a simple, yet stunning, cake to make and perfect for afternoon tea and cakes in the sunshine!


For the sponge:

3 medium eggs
4oz caster sugar
3oz self raising flour

For the butter cream:

6oz unsalted butter
10oz icing sugar
double shot espresso


6oz shredded blanched almonds, lightly toasted


Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Grease and line a 9" round cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and thick. The mixture should be thick enough to leave a trail. Gently fold in the sifted flour. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sponge is golden and cooked through. Leave to cool, then turn out of the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the butter cream, start by making a double espresso and leave to cool. If you don't have a coffee machine you could make a small amount of strong coffee in a cafetiere or use 2 tbsp coffee essence as Mary Berry does in her recipe, but I haven't tried the essence so can't vouch for it!

Put the butter and sifted icing sugar in a food processor and mix until smooth. Add the cooled espresso.

Once the sponge is cool carefully slice in half horizontally. Sandwich the two halves together with a little of the coffee butter cream. Then use the remaining butter cream to coat the top and sides of the cake. Finally, gently scatter the toasted almonds all over the top and sides of the cake.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Luxurious Lemon Cake

I'm having a bit of a baking week this week and what a lovely cake to start with on such a gloriously sunny morning! Light lemony sponge, layered with lashings of lemon curd and creme fraiche, topped off with candied lemon zest. Perfect for Easter.

The recipe is based on a photograph I cut out of a magazine, probably a few years ago now, which I found stuffed in an old file of cuttings. I couldn't find a cutting of the method, only part the ingredients, so here is my version.


For the sponge:

250g unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
250g self raising flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the filling:
200ml creme fraiche
350g lemon curd (homemade tastes best, but using a good quality jar of lemon curd makes this cake much quicker and simpler to make)

For the candied lemon zest:

1 unwaxed lemon
100ml water
100g caster sugar


To make the candied lemon zest:

Start by making the candied lemon zest the day before. To do this, prepare long strips of lemon zest, either using a zester or by peeling strips of zest with a potato peeler and slicing finely. Take care not to peel off the white pith as this will make the candied zest taste bitter. Place in a pan, cover with water and simmer for around 10 minutes. Drain the zest.

Add the measured water and sugar to the pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Add the zest and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has become syrupy.

Remove the zest carefully and place on a non stick baking sheet. Leave to dry out for 24 hours.

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven at 180 C. Grease and line the bases of two 8" sandwich tins. Beat the sugar and butter together then stir in the eggs, lemon zest and juice. Sift the flour and baking powder over the cake mixture and stir gently until combined. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. If you test the middle of the cake with a cake tester or scewer it should come out clean.

Leave to cool before removing from the tins and placing on a wire cooling tray. Once cool, slice in half so that you have 4 layers of sponge.

Stir a little of your lemon curd into the creme fraiche. Then layer up the cake starting with a layer of sponge topped with 1/3 of the lemon curd, then 1/3 creme fraiche mixture. Repeat twice and then place the final layer of sponge on top. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with candied lemon zest.