There’s always those flavours that you need to grow into, those ‘acquired tastes’ that show the mark of gaining a more sophisticated palate. For a lot of people, it’s things like good whisky, olives and dark chocolate that mark their ascent into a more mature appetite. For me, it’s oranges.
I could never eat oranges as a child, not even a tiny segment or a morning glass of OJ. I’d even struggle to force down a fruit salad that I had removed the orange segments from. Over time, as I have tried to become a non-picky eater, I’m proud of the fact that I can eat oranges and that a night of TV isn’t complete without munching on several Satsumas. (Still can’t peel them neatly though, clearly I missed developing that skill as a child). With this newfound acquired taste, I’ve enjoyed experimenting more with orange flavours in food. But I think this cake was an orange too far for my immature tastebuds.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily make this cake again. So long as it was for someone else. Let me explain – the process of making this cake is entirely enjoyable. You get to boil two oranges and then puree them whole – skin, pith and all – and the experience of reducing something as solid and complex as a whole orange had a bizarrely captivating effect on me. As a result, the whole baking experience is somewhat infused with a delicious citrusy smell.
The cake itself is dense and moist, with a soft, supple texture that slides down a treat. The natural yoghurt topping – which as you can see from the pictures didn’t set – has a tangy flavour, and is a great base for the beautiful pomegranate, pistachio and orange zest that decorate the cake. The ground almond flavour compliments the orange beautifully, an orange flavour that is neither overpowering or overly sweet – as some orange cakes can be. No, this cake actually tastes of oranges – real oranges, whole oranges, fresh oranges. Which is great…if you happen to like oranges.
I am however reliably informed by people who really like oranges that it is a delicious cake, and that tasting of real oranges is a good thing. It also apparently tastes better the day after it is made, and it stays nice and moist. My tastebuds, however, could not be persuaded to give it another try, and are back to craving the simple, immature pleasures of jelly and ice cream. Maybe I’m just not that grown up after all.
Whole orange cake with natural yoghurt topping
This recipe is entirely from British Larder. It’s an amazing site with some exceptional recipes, go check it out!
For the cake
2 whole fresh oranges
250g caster sugar
100g plain flour
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1) Wash the oranges, place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the oranges to the boil and simmer for 1 ½ hours until completely soft. Let the oranges cool in the liquid – transferring the water and oranges to another bowl helps it to cool quicker.
2) Preheat the oven to 150C fan, gas 3, 170C, and prepare cake tins – either two 24cm loaf tins or one square 23cm tin.
3) In a large bowl, process the oranges – all of ‘em – and 100ml of the cooking water, either in a food processer or with a handheld blender. The puree should be very smooth, with no lumps or pips or bits of skin.
4) Add the eggs and the sugar and mix well.
5) Fold in the ground almonds.
6) Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and gentle fold in with a metal spoon. Add this point the recipe said that the mix should be very runny, and I felt that my batter was too thick and gloopy, so I added a little more of the cooking water until it reached a satisfactory viscosity.
7) Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and cook for around 1 hour until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8) Let cool completely before icing.
Natural Yoghurt Topping
300g natural yoghurt
20g caster sugar
1 leaf of gelatine (I only had powdered gelatine, so I used a teaspoon, which clearly wasn’t enough to make it set)
1) Dissolve gelatine in cold water.
2) Bring milk and sugar to the boil. Remove from heat and add gelatine.
3) Pour milk and sugar mix over yoghurt and mix well.
4) Let cool completely before spreading on the cold cakes.
5) Use pistachios, pomegranate and orange zest to decorate.