Nigella Lawson used to be an appealing mistake-maker, wearing ill-advised twin-sets on the tellybox, and being a bit bosomy. Now all her seductive mouthy grasps at food in the midnight eating vignettes on her shows are so practiced I can’t bear watching her. In general I find her recipes to be either total comedy fails or rather delicious. This cake falls into the second category, quite firmly, and I was introduced to it by a friend’s mum at lunch the other week.
The only chocolate and orange flavours I can bear are, usually, Aussie Jaffa lollies. Hate Jaffa cakes. Hate Chocolate Oranges. This cake, somehow, manages to transcend their foulness.
It’s sunny in London FOR THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW. Miracle. People are walking round with small smiles on their faces, daring to be vaguely hopeful that this might be the first sign of Spring. By mid-April usually all the trees are leaved again, the blossoms are in full effect, and sales of hayfever tablets hit the year’s peak. Right now the trees on our street are only just beginning to unfurl.
I keep throwing the back door open at any sign of sun and plus-10C temperatures. Drives the boyfriend bonkers.
Anyway, the cake. It takes about 3hrs to make, but that’s only cause you have to boil the oranges for 2 hours first. Make it on a day you’re taking things easy. I’ve just masked up the bathroom and the boyfriend is up there doing the first undercoat now. Then we will do more jobs. Seriously, sunshine is good for getting shit done. If it was cold and raining I’d no doubt be sat on the sofa in my tracky daks, moaning for the 45th consecutive weekend about ‘bloody Britain’s bloody shit weather’….
2 oranges, unwaxed ideally
200g ground almonds
Bout 50g cocoa (good stuff, yes?)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Half teaspoon bicarb soda
250g caster sugar
Stick the oranges (not massive ones) in a saucepan and boil them for 2 hours, or until they go soft. I think I did just short of 2 hours. Set aside to cool. I left mine overnight cause I started to bake this at 730pm at the end of a freakin’ long shitty day. Mistake. Don’t do that.
They’ll look kinda nice inside but feel utterly rotten on the outside. As in feel like they actually are rotten. Crawling with fruit fly maggots. Hopefully not, eh?
Put your oven on at Gas Mark 4/180C and grease and line a 20cm springform tin. Just line the base, should be enough.
In your food processor, whazz the oranges up, peel, pith and all, into a paste-like consistency. I have a tiny, tiny food processor so did this in three lots. Just remove any big, obvious seeds before you go at it.
Nigella’s recipe says you can do everything in the food processor, so if yours is big enough go for it. I turned my orange stuff out into a bowl.
I then used my electric hand beaters to mix in all the other ingredients. All in one go. You want a kind of knobbly but fairly runnyish batter.
Pour into your tin and throw into the oven. Should take about an hour, till a skewer comes out pretty much clean. You might need to cover it with foil at some point to stop the top browning overly.
Do something nice for the dog whilst you’re waiting. I laid out a couple of filthy towels on our disgusting decking (it’s being ripped up tomorrow, YAY) so the dog could sunbathe. See below.
Essentially once the cake has cooked and cooled, it’s done. It’s a fairly ascetic cake, surprisingly unsweet considering the amount of sugar in it. You could just decorate it with some orange zest or cocoa. I made a ganache (I had leftover double cream that needed using up….I’m nothing if not budget conscious*).
* that’s a lie
Anyway, see below for a ganached, cocoa-dusted slice. We had some for lunch. Most acceptable. Quite grown up, as cakes go.