This post is accidentally more apropos that I intended it to be – just perfect for all those late planners out there. Last week, a Monday happened (ARGHH) and it was decided that it was time for cake. An orange cake. And, it’s blood orange season, so a BLOOD ORANGE CAKE! Woohoo! The brightly tinted juice and zest gives this cake a pleasant pink tinge, ideal for…say it with me…Valentine’s Day! Make this cake and give it to your Valentine :)
When I was in the UK, I picked up this book called, “Cakes: River Cottage Handbook No.8”. I’m not sure what’s in volumes 1 through 7 (although I am anxious to find out, I must admit), and I first tried this orange cake in a teeny tiny kitchen, using my coffee cup as a cup measure and that’s it. It was wildly successful: the batter is thick and sticky, which is slightly disconcerting, but seems quite forgiving, and the orange zest looks beautiful and smells divine. But the best part about this cake is the frostings; that’s right, there’s more than one: there’s a middle cream cheese and orange frosting, and then a top Earl Grey glaze. Anyway, enough chatting – on with it! Note: the proportions in this recipe are actually for 2 thin cakes, which are sandwiched together with the cream cheese frosting. A regular 9-inch cake pan (like a springform) would be too big; if possible, I would recommend using a smaller-sized cake pan (maybe 7-8 inches), or even scaling the recipe down to make a different sized cake. For example, using a loaf pan to make a loaf-shaped cake that you slice and frost would be delicious, and could be sliced like a pound cake. If you are absolutely keen on using your 9-inch pan, just know that your cakes will be a bit thin! Or don’t slice them at all, and just frost away on the outsides.
Blood Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Earl Grey Glaze
– 1.5 cups flour (either white or whole wheat works well)
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1.5 sticks butter, softened but not melted
– zest of two blood oranges, plus the juice of one orange, separated
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3 eggs
– 2/3 cup cream cheese
– 1 cup icing sugar, plus more if needed
– 1 Earl grey tea bag
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cream together the butter, the sugar, and the zest from one orange until it is pale creamy in colour. Making sure that the butter is soft but not melted allows the sugar to tear into the butter, creating little pockets of deliciousness.
2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix around with a fork. Add an egg to the butter mixture and beat to combine, then add half the flour and beat to combine, then another egg, then the other half of the flour, then the last egg, beating after every addition. Stir in the orange juice.
3. Butter your baking tins (2, remember) and dollop half of the batter in each. As I mentioned, the batter will be very thick, and you will have to spread it out. It will look like there’s not enough, but don’t worry! It will all work out. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, looking for these tell-tale signs of readiness: the edge should be lightly browned, and the top should be springy.
4. At this point, I know it will be difficult, but you need to wait until the cakes cool before you can frost or glaze them. While you’re waiting, you can make the cream cheese frosting, it’s best if this is a bit soft when spreading. Whisk together 1/4 cup of the icing sugar, the remaining zest, and the cream cheese. Add more icing sugar to suit your taste, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Allow it to sit at room temperature until the cakes are completely cool (while you’re still waiting, cuz this takes some time, you can boil some water and let the tea bag hang out in about 5 tbsp of boiling water, pressing and squeezing to get out as much of the flavour and colour as possible), and then use the cream cheese frosting to sandwich them together (tip: use the cake with the nicest looking top as the top layer).
5. Once the cakes have been sandwiched together, discard the tea bag from the tea, and start by adding 1/4 cup of icing sugar. Stir together until lump-free, and taste; the goal is to have a mixture that is faintly caramel coloured and is sweet but not obscenely sweet (unless you like that sort of thing), and is of a drizzleable consistency. I used about 1/2 cup icing sugar. Once you have a glaze to your taste, spoon it over the cakes, making sure to cover all angles.
I actually like this cake best after its been in the fridge; I know, it’s a bit weird, but the firms up the cakes and the frostings, and you still get a distinct flavour from each component. But it’s also delicious fresh from its glazing. It’s basically just delicious. Make this for your Valentine, and you will see what I mean ;)
Happy Friday all, and stay delicious!