Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

Spring is definitely here – the flowers are blossoming and the weather keeps changing – warm and sunny one minute then drizzly and cold the next. Getting dressed is complicated and making a plan is tricky since you never know how the day is going to turn out – an al fresco lunch could be cancelled at the last minute or a spa treatment postponed for when the weather isn’t as nice.

Today started out bright and clear. As you can see from the terrace, my hydrangeas are in full fuchsia bloom. I planned to do lots of errands today and be out and about then it started to get cold and rainy and I changed my mind and stayed home instead – perfect day to bake a cake.

My husband turns forty tomorrow – a big round number – and he’s swamped at work with some VIP’s so we’re not going to celebrate till the weekend. In any case, I decideed to make him a pseudo-birthday cake. I say pseudo because there isn’t any icing or fancy wording on the cake and I don’t even have big 4-0 candles. I found a simple recipe from Nigella Lawson’s “Feast” which I know he’ll love because it has his two favorite ingredients – chocolate and orange.

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Orange Cake
(makes about 8 slices)

2 small or 1 large thin-skinned orange, approximately 375 gram weight
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200 grams ground almonds
250 grams caster sugar (or fine white sugar)
50 grams unsweetened cocoa
orange peel for decoration if wished

  • The hardest thing to do is boil the oranges in the beginning and cook for 2 hours or until soft and set aside to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C then start measuring out the ingredients.
  • Butter your 20 cm. springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Cut up the cooled orange (pith and all, just make sure there are no big pips) then put the chunks into the food processor.
  • Add the eggs one by one, the baking powder, ground almonds, sugar and cocoa powder and whizz until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but still knobbly and with flecks of pureed orange.
  • Transfer into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester or toothpick should come out clean. Check after 45 minutes because you may have to cover with foil to prevent the cake from burning before it is cooked through. (It may need a little bit less than an hour, it depends on your oven.)
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a rack. When the cake is cool you can take it out of the tin.
  • Decorate with strips of orange peel or coarsely grated zest but it is darkly beautiful in its plain unadorned state.

Voila, c’est tout….told you it was easy.

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