Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Chocolate orange cake

Last week it was my friend Joanna's birthday. So I made her a cake. When I'm cooking for Joanna, the stakes are high. She's an excellent cook...  and an adventurous one. She has a piping bag and a blow torch - for brûlée not welding - and the ability and patience (and need with two small daughters) to make cakes in the shape of barnyard animals and geometrically difficult numerals involving multiple tins and creative assembly. I can't compete with that. So I went the other way, with my limited craft skills and a fail-safe recipe.

This cake - a variation on the Middle-Eastern orange cake - couldn't be more simple... or delicious. Here, cocoa is added to the traditional mix of boiled orange, eggs, sugar and almond meal, resulting in a stunningly light chocolate cake - nutty, citrussy and incredibly moreish. It's brilliant as a light dessert at a dinner party (when you've probably already overfed your guests), as something decadent for those who don't eat gluten or dairy, a treat to take camping (it's so moist it keeps for days), or with a cup of tea on a sunny Saturday morning to celebrate a birthday of a friend... who liked it so much she asked for the recipe. Here it is!

Chocolate orange cake
Adapted (not much at all) from Nigella Lawson's Feast

I almost always cook the orange/s the night before I want to make this. That way, the preparation of the cake is nothing more than piling all the ingredients into the food processor and hitting the ON button. If you're catering for someone gluten-intolerant, be sure that the brand of baking powder you use is gluten-free. Many name brands stocked by supermarkets are, but read the label to be sure.

2 small or 1 large thin-skinned orange, approximately 375g total weight
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
200g ground almonds
250g caster (superfine) sugar
50g cocoa

Put the whole orange or oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. Drain and, when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips. Then pulp everything - pith, peel and all - in a food processor.

Once the fruit is cold, or near cold, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Butter and line a 20cm (9 inch) springform tin.

Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarb soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor til you have a cohesive cake mixture, but still slightly knobbly with flecks of pureed orange. 

Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour - or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in tin on a wire rack before turning out.


  1. This is worth getting another year older for.

  2. Love your rustic cake bunting and this cake sounds delicious.

  3. My goodness, I am getting beyond hungry reading this, Alice! Yum!!!

  4. Yummy. Orange and chocolate. Perfect.

  5. I'm baking this to impress new friends for a lunch on Sunday... it better be good, Alice!!

  6. It was a winner, Alice!
    Smallish slices with lashings of cream.
    The cake went down a treat with a glass of red.

  7. HI Alice!, just wanted to let you know that I made this for Charley's 1st birthday on the weekend. She loves orange and I just thought she may like the flavours of this cake - the stakes were high- you don't ever turn 1 ever again, and the cake was important! She loved it!

    1. High stakes indeed! So glad it was a hit. Phew.