We’re picking the last of our organic oranges before the heat of summer sets in, and I know a perfect way to use some of them up: my maternal grandmother’s orange syrup cake recipe. Marga gave this recipe to me when I held my first proper dinner party – a rural affair at my college share-house, where the boys were so delighted to be invited to ‘Roast Dinner and Dessert’ that they scrubbed up and wore ties!
This is a beautiful, moist and flavoursome cake, that is easy to make, keeps well and is a little bit special. It’s just perfect as a dessert, or as the star of an afternoon tea. I served one of these cakes recently at a friend’s 40th birthday picnic, with glasses of celebratory champagne and fresh orange juice.
*You can tell by the name that this cake is going to be one massive natural and refined sugar fix, so if that’s an issue, please avert your eyes. It’s also the reason this is one of my ‘special occasion’ cakes.
Cake: 1 orange – grate rind finely and then juice fruit and set both aside, 3 eggs, 1 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar), 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 225 grams), 1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour, 2 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade (I was lucky enough to have some of my neighbour’s amazing organic orange marmalade left in my pantry. Thanks Richard! xx)
Syrup: 1 orange – grate rind finely and then juice fruit and set both aside, 1 cup of pure icing sugar (confectioners sugar) . You can also add one tablespoon of Cointreau or Grand Marnier Liqueur for an adults-only version with a little more kick.
Yoghurt: 1 cup of natural yoghurt, 1 to 2 tablespoons honey (use to your taste)
A few extra oranges to segment as a garnish…
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius (moderate or 355F) or slightly less (I use 160 degrees) if it is fan forced.
Choose a tin. It looks pretty for a special occasion in a fluted ring tin, or you can make it in a 24cm round tin, a loaf tin, or two smaller tins. The pictures of my effort show one loaf tin and two smaller rectangular tins because I made a double batch. (I always make a double batch…) Grease your tin well, or line with baking paper
Grate the rind from your first orange, and then juice it and set both aside. Beat your butter and sugar together with an electric beater until your mixture is pale and creamy and the sugar has dissolved. Then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in your marmalade and rind and beat again. Then alternately fold the sifted flour and orange juice, working them gently together until combined.
Now gently spoon the cake mix into your prepared tins, pushing it well into the edges. Wash your hands and then use your wet palm to smooth off the surface of the cake, and to spread the mixture uniformly across the pan.
Bake for forty five to fifty minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. After twenty (smaller tins) to thirty minutes (larger tins) uncovered, and then lightly cover the tin with foil to prevent the tops over-browning.
While the cake is cooking, prepare your syrup by finely grating the rind of another orange, juicing it, and adding these to one cup of pure icing sugar. (If you are using alcohol, also add this in now.) Stir with a spoon until the sugar has dissolved and then set aside.
For your garnish, segment some more oranges and keep on a plate, and then combine your honey and yoghurt together in a bowl.
When the cake/cakes are removed from the oven allow them to stand for ten minutes in their tin. If you remove them sooner they have a tendency to break! Don’t be alarmed if they have sunk a little in the middle. They sometimes do in a larger tin. After cooling a little place your cake onto the serving plate and then spoon or brush the syrup over until it has all been absorbed. Arrange segmented oranges on the top for a pretty affect.
If you intend on serving the cake cold, or at a later time, then go ahead and pour the syrup over it while it is in the tin, but do this bit by bit rather than all in a rush. Then let it cool in the tin, all syrupy and good.
To serve, slice your cake, add some honey yoghurt and a few orange segments and enjoy!
Variations: Substitute 1/2 cup of almond meal for 1/2 cup of flour (no more or it becomes stodge!) You can also use a packaged gluten-free self rising flour. The cake will have a slightly heavier texture, but that is perfectly fine for a syrup cake.
PS: If you really want to honour my wonderful grandmother, eat a little slice for breakfast the next morning with a cup of coffee. Cook’s privilege, she always told me. ♥ xx