I made my first orange cake from scratch using a 1980’s Cuisine Magazine recipe. It was a “food processor” kind of cake using a whole orange and cooked in the microwave. It instantly became a favourite of mine.
Years went by and I did not bake that orange cake as much. Then one day on a road trip between house sits, Chris and I visited Julia. She knew we were coming and whisked up an orange cake – it was the best. I do not usually ask for recipes but I asked for this one. The cake was Annabel Langbein’s Lightning Orange Cake – I wrote that recipe in my travelling diary.
Later, when on a Keri Keri housesit with lots of orange and macadamia nut trees. I collected, cracked open and chopped macadamia nuts. Diced up oranges (an orange cake deserves more than one orange) as I had no food processor. Found, in the baking drawer, six small cake tins. Doubled (or was it trebled) the recipe and made six cakes at a time – adding a bit more dry ingredients to get the consistency right. I froze these cakes or shared with morning tea visitors.
This Christmas, I was again with surplus oranges (purchased this time) and my visiting brother decided to make an orange cake. He was looking through recipes on the internet and I told him to look at the Lightning cake recipe. By this time, he had read about boiling a whole orange for 15 mins before adding to a cake batter. My house sit kitchen did not have a food processor so it seemed like a good idea.
Take risks in your cooking
Boiling the whole orange seemed to remove some of the bitterness of the rind, as the cooking water was slightly bitter. The cooked orange was easier to chunkily chop. Craig adjusted the recipe further by adding fresh ginger and dark chocolate. As we were in a Swiss kitchen where it is common to bake with ground nuts, Craig substituted half the flour with almond meal. Oh my, it was a very good cake. It was moist and the orange flavour was intense. The addition of the dark chocolate and ginger was perfect and the flavours got better the day after.
Craig made the cake a second time with more adjustment. He reduced the sugar and removed more of the white pith to keep a good balance of bitter and sweet. It was still a beautiful orange cake with a lower sugar content.
Cooking is about risk, don’t get complacent (or stay in the warm bath) try new flavours, new ideas. Go whisk up a treat. Sorry, no recipe here because it keeps changing each time it is baked.