Blood orange and almond cake

Ever since the arrival of February I have been dying to get my hands on some blood oranges. Social media has been full of everybody else’s blood orange bakes and I’ve been searching the supermarkets like …. ‘uh’. Finally, last weekend I found them, made this cake and now all my dreams are complete. In my excitement, I bought so many blood oranges that in fact my dreams may be complete for the next month.

Blood oranges are so beautiful when cut open and have such a bright, citrus taste. Furthering my love for them,  no blood orange is the same, some are stained deep purple red on the inside, and some have faint veins of blood red within the typical orange colour.  This cake itself was inspired by John Whaite’s sherbet lemon cake, which I made for a birthday recently. The key design feature of this cake is the overlapping candied blood orange on the top. I used ground almonds and 2 whole cooked and processed blood oranges in the cake itself, which led to a really light fluffy cake. Coupled with a creamy filling, and the tangy, chewy jelly on top, this cake really is something special.

 

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Ingredients

For the cake

250g unsalted butter

250g golden caster sugar

175g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g ground almonds

4 free-range eggs

2 blood oranges, plus the zest of 1 blood orange.

2 tablespoons of marmalade (for a glaze)

For the filling

100ml double cream

100ml mascarpone

75g icing sugar

For the candied top

3 blood oranges

400ml water

~300g of caster sugar

bloodFor this bake, I started with the cake and prepped the filling and decoration during the bake and cool time. I found the timings worked well in this order, but perhaps for a less stressful bake, consider making the fruit topping first.

  1. Grease two sandwich cake tins and dust with a light coat of flour. Preheat the oven to 180•C.
  2. Pierce two blood oranges thoroughly with a skewer or sharp knife. Microwave the oranges (on a plate as there will be leakages) for 4-5 minutes until tender. Anyone who has ever had something explode in the microwave will understand the need to pierce thoroughly. Alternatively, if you don’t have a microwave, boil the blood oranges until soft.
  3. Chop the blood oranges into segments, then place in a food processor and whizz to a pulp.
  4. To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and light in colour. Measure out the dry ingredients (self-raising flour, ground almonds, and baking powder) in a separate bowl and stir to incorporate. Alternate between adding an egg and a quarter of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar, stirring between each addition, until all of these components are included.
  5. Next add the pulp, zest and mix. Easy peasy.
  6. Divide between  the two cake tins and bake for 25 minutes. The cakes should be lightly golden when ready and a skewer should come out clean.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. blood5
  8. Using a sharp, serrated knife saw the 3 raw blood oranges horizontally. Remove any pips, and slice thinly. Bring 200ml of water to boil on the hob and add the blood oranges. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes before draining. Be gentle because you don’t want to break up the segments.
  9. Next  poach the segments in 200ml of water and 200g caster sugar. Heat the water, then add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add the orange slices and poach for 20 minutes until soft.
  10. Drain and dry gently before dusting in caster sugar.blood3Me looking smug as anything with my cake. Also slightly frazzled from non-stop work for the last 28362834693264 days.
  11. To make the filling whip 100ml of double cream until it has thickened and can hold its shape. Fold in 100g of mascarpone and 75g icing sugar.
  12. Ready for construction, place one half of the cake your stand/plate of choice. Make a quick glaze by heating 2 tablespoons of marmalade and one tablespoon of water. Sieve, then brush the smooth liquid over the cake. Spoon the cream filling over the top. I only used a spatula to do this and was happy enough with how it looked, but if you are going all out to impress you could also pipe the cream for super neatness. Place the other half of the cake on top and gently press into place. Brush the top cake with the remaining glaze.
  13. Arrange the candied orange on top and there you go, a cake which adds a little sunshine to an otherwise dreary February.

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