Oranges. Magical. Humble. Festive. Homely - these are the words that came to my mind when I started to write this post. Although I don't like eating them in their original form I can't seem to get enough of them in the form of baked goodies! I have always loved baking with oranges or using them in desserts and this year I bought a lot of oranges to experiment with them. I have tried three different recipes so far, the fourth one is lined up for this weekend.
For me oranges are festive because as a child I ate a lot of them during Christmas and so they remind me of my dad who used to buy a lot of the green, easy to peel, loose skinned variety that came from Coorg. During the Christmas vacations we spent idle afternoons peeling them one by one and popping each segment into our mouths, each squashed up to release tangy-sweet juice that we relished so much. The peels were used to play pranks and pressed to squirt juice into the eyes of anyone least expecting it. And then the fights began!
The store bought plum cake and oranges along with homemade Kuswar (Christmas goodies) was a family tradition that was broken only after my dad passed away. After that it was mostly store bought plum cake and kuswar minus the oranges.
Today, my dad's love for oranges has been passed down to my daughter who relishes every bite along with her dad who also loves them. He buys them in all shapes and sizes - mandarins, tangerines, clementines and what have you! With so much orange in my house it was a given that I would try experimenting with at least some of them.
This recipe is an adaptation of two different recipes but is leaning towards the one I found in an old cutting of the Good Housekeeping magazine. I made my own changes to arrive at a deliciously moist and crumbly cake that had a lovely taste of orange. Since I wasn't so satisfied with the first experiment I went ahead and tried it again with a few changes and this time it was a big hit at home and with my neighbour Mitchelle too.
I added some glacé cherries that were hanging around the pantry and they definitely added some charm and colour to the cake. The walnuts taste wonderful as they compliment the flavours so well. I will be making this cake a lot in the future as it is perfect for Christmas as well as as a teatime accompaniment.
Prep time: 20 mins | Baking time: 50-60mins | Yield
- 225 grams (8 oz) all purpose flour (I used 200 grams of all purpose flour + 25 grams oats)
- 175 (6 oz) grams soft brown sugar
- 175 (6 oz) grams butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 100 grams (3-1/2 oz) dried apricots, finely chopped
- 100 grams (3-1/2 oz) mixed peel (tutti frutti) (I used candied papaya and glace cherries), finely chopped
- juice and zest of 1 large orange (approx 1/2 cup of orange juice - fresh or from the box)
- 50 grams (2 oz) walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 1 tablespoon honey
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and line a 2 lb loaf pan with baking parchment (this is important as the cake will burn on the outside)
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside. Roll the walnuts, chopped apricots and mixed peel in a little flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
3. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar till the butter is fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.
4. Sift in the flour in parts, a little at a time and fold into the batter using a spatula. Add in the orange zest and chopped nuts, fruits and fold.
5. Stir in the marmalade, honey and just enough juice to achieve a soft batter - you may not require to use all the juice. To check the consistency of the batter, scoop some with your spatula and drop it back into the bowl. If it falls easily without having to shake your hand then it is just right. Too stiff and it won't fall until you vigorously shake your hand - so loosen it up with more juice or milk if you run out of juice.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 mins - the baking time may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye out after 40 mins. Do the poke test by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake and it if comes out clean, the cake is done.
7. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool - let the cake cool in the tin for about 10 mins then invert it onto the cooling rack and let it cool completely.
8. Slice and serve! The cake lasts for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container. If you live in humid weather you can refrigerate it.
1. Do add a little oats to the flour as mentioned above as it really improves the texture of the cake.
2. This cake is very moist and cumbly. Do make sure that the fruits have been chopped fine or else they may come off as crumbs when you cut the cake.
3. By mixed peel I mean tutti frutti as we call it in India. You can use any dried fruit like dried papaya, kiwi, mango etc. Don't use figs or dates or prunes for this recipe