Whenever March rolls around, my kitchen tends to go a little blood orange mad. They are a fascinating fruit, equally delicious in a salad as they are on their own or in a sweet bake. Largely a result of their tart quality, their versatility is almost unparalleled – a statement my recipe for Blood Orange Cake will hopefully bear testament to.
Adding fresh fruit to a cake can be a difficult decision. The one thing you always want to avoid when making a cake is jeopardising a light, airy sponge. Juice is therefore inherently counter-productive. It makes things soggy. Strawberries make a great filling because they aren’t juicy in the same way oranges are – there’s no drip.
By layering the oranges on top of cream cheese any problems concerning excess moisture immediately evaporate. It forms a makeshift protective layer, which counteracts the effects of gravity and seals in the refreshing juice of the fruit. For me, this blood orange cake with its light sponge and fresh filling captures the very essence of spring.
Blood Orange Cake
Makes 1 20cm Sandwich Cake
3 large eggs
the zest and flesh of 1 blood orange
300g full-fat cream cheese
2 tbsp icing sugar
* The quantity of butter, sugar and flour should each be the same as the weight of the eggs.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(fan) and line your 20cm sandwich tins. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one by one and fold in the flour and most of the orange zest. Spoon equal amounts of the cake batter into each sandwich tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare your icing by quickly beating together the cream cheese and icing sugar. Spread half the icing on the lower half of the cake and layer with slices of blood orange.
Coat the top half of your cake with the remaining cream cheese icing and place gently atop the bottom half. Sprinkle over the remaining orange zest for decoration and serve in only large portions.
Cost: Blood oranges aren’t an expensive fruit; at this time of year a bag of 4 should set you back around £1. As such, my divine recipe for Blood Orange Cake should set you back no more than £3.50. Cake needn’t be expensive!
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