christmas week 2015 - blood orange and almond syrup cake

Welcome to Christmas Week 2015. This year I decided it was time to feature Christmas desserts, some easy and some a little more challenging. Now in our household we’re traditionalists, so our dessert of choice will always be a traditional steamed Christmas pudding served with lashings of cream for some and custard for me. Now I know that Christmas pudding is a British tradition and that many people don’t care for it, which I think is down right crazy but there you have it. For those people who don’t enjoy a steamed pudding, I‘ve come up with a selection of goodies that can be made by my Northern hemisphere friends and some that will suit my Southern hemisphere friends.

Here’s the first dessert adapted from this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi. Now the original recipe calls for tangerines, which are a hard to find commodity in Sydney. I happened to have a few last of the season blood oranges lurking in my crisper drawer, so that’s what I used. Tangerines, mandarins or oranges would all work equally well.

As with all Ottolenghi recipes you just know that the cake will be moist and delicious and bursting with flavour. For added glamour I topped the cake with some dark chocolate ganache and candied blood orange slices. The cake would work just as well simply topped with a dollop of double cream. Best of all, you can make the entire cake the day before as the flavour improves with keeping.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes a 16 cm cake. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cake, then double all the ingredients. The baking time will stay the same. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C. 

Blood Orange and Almond Syrup Cake (adapted from Ottolenghi)

2 small blood oranges
½ lemon
100g unsalted butter
150 g caster sugar
140 g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
50g self-raising flour, sifted
pinch salt
candied orange slices (optional)

40 g caster sugar
60 mls reserved juice

Chocolate icing (optional)
45g unsalted butter, diced
75g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1½ tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F. Lightly grease a 16 cm spring-form tin, and line the sides and base with baking parchment.

Finely grate the zest of the 2 oranges and the lemon before juicing them. Reserve the juice. Put the butter, 150g of the sugar and the citrus zests into a bowl and mix. Do not work the mix too much or incorporate much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing to fold through. Add the eggs gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. Add the remaining almonds, flour and salt, and work until the mix is smooth.
Spoon the cake batter into the tin and level. Bake for 50-60 minutes - a skewer should come out a little bit moist.

When the cake is almost cooked, prepare the syrup. Combine the remaining sugar and 60 mls of citrus juices in a small pan; bring to a boil then remove from the heat at once. Pour the hot syrup over the cake, making sure it all soaks through. Leave to cool. Serve it as it is or topped with the chocolate icing.

To make the icing, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave. Cook on high for about 30 seconds or until the butter has melted. Add the chopped chocolate and honey to the hot butter and stir until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let the chocolate stand for about 30 minutes until it thickens a little before pouring over the cooled cake. Let the icing set, then garnish with some pieces of candied orange rind.

I'll be back again tomorrow with another Christmas Week 2015 dessert. See you all then,



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