Chocolate and Algarve Orange Cake

Algarve Orange Cake

It is orange season again in the Algarve and my mother-in-law’s orchard is once again laden with more sweet, ripe fruit than we can possibly know what to do with. Returning home with a bag full of oranges, my wife set about finding ways to use them up.

“This recipe is an adaptation of one from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen. It makes a wonderfully light yet sticky cake, similar in texture to Jamaican ginger cake. Having scorched the top of my cake in the oven, I needed to shave the top off and ice it with something, so created an orange butter cream that turned out to complement the cake beautifully.”

Nigella’s book can be found here, and is one that gets pulled down from the shelf frequently in our house:

Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home

Orange Cake Ingredients

Algarve Orange Cake

Algarve Orange Cake

For the cake:
150g butter, softened
175g dark muscavado sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g dark chocolate, melted
150g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 orange

For the icing:
100g butter
Icing sugar (as much as it takes to achieve the desired consistency of the icing)
Zest of 1 orange

To make the orange cake:

1. Line a rectangular loaf tin with baking parchment and heat the oven to 175◦C.
2. Melt the chocolate using a bain-marie (sit it in a bowl placed over a saucepan of gently boiling water).
3. While the chocolate is melting, stir together the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda, then set aside.
4. Beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup using an electric mixer, then pour in the melted chocolate with the mixer still running (keep it running until all the ingredients listed below have been mixed in).
5. Add 1 tbsp of the flour mixture, then 1 egg.
6. Add a further tbsp of the flour mixture, followed by the second egg, then the rest of the flour mixture.
7. Add the orange zest and orange juice. (Although Nigella warned that the mix may curdle at this point, mine didn’t.)
8. Turn off the mixer and pour the cake mix into the lined loaf tin.
9. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the cake begins to scorch on the top, you can cover it with a layer of foil, or do what I did and just shave off the top once the cake has cooled.
10. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the butter cream icing:
1. Melt the butter until it is soft but not completely liquid.
2. Use a fork to stir in enough icing sugar to achieve a consistency that is solid enough not to run off the top of the cake, but still spreadable.
3. Stir in the orange zest.
4. Once the cake has cooled completely, dollop the icing on top and then use a spatula to spread it out evenly.