Sunday 6 December 2009

Chocolate orange cake

Moist citrus sponge with lovely dark chocolate chunks

It was my niece's birthday recently, and she couldn't celebrate properly as she was suffering a nasty bout of flu. I thought she definitely deserved a decadent treat, and what better way to say 'sorry your birthday was shit' than to bring her a lovely big delicious cake? I used a sort of bundt-style cake tin for this, but you could also just split the batter between two circular sponge tins and then sandwich them together with some cream or ganache to make a more conventional two-tiered cake.

- 8 oz butter
- 7 oz sugar
- 5 eggs
- zest of 3 oranges
- 7.5 oz flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bread soda
- 125 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 6 fluid oz buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (not essence)
- Bar of dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa

For the syrup:
- 250 ml orange juice
- 1.5 oz sugar

- Using an electric beater (you really need one for this recipe, unless you have the patience of a saint and the arm muscles of a professional lifter man... that's a profession, right?), cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until it is pale in colour (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at the time, and chuck in the orange zest. If it looks a bit curdled, don't worry, it won't last.
- In a bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder and bread soda.
- In another bowl, mix together the orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- Turn on the electric beater again and add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter, then add 1/2 the buttermilk mixture. Still mixing all the time, add half of the remaining flour, then all of the buttermilk, then the remainder of the flour.
- Chop up the chocolate into rough chunks and coat them in a handful of flour; this is to stop them all sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes.
- Turn off the electric beater and fold in the chocolate chunks with a spatula.
- Pour the batter (it will be quite wet for a sponge batter) into a well-greased tin (or two tins, if using round cake tins) and smooth the top with the spatula.
- Bake in a low-moderate oven (160 celcius for a fan oven) for 30 - 35 minutes until the top of the cake is slightly springy and a skewer comes out clean.
- Let it cool for a few minutes while you prepare the syrup.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice and heat gently until the sugar melts and is completely dissolved.
- Turn out the cake from the tin (gently!) and slowly spoon the syrup over the cake while it is still warm. The syrup will be absorbed by the sponge to give the most incredibly moist and melty sponge.
- Leave to cool entirely and serve with a glass of wine or a nice coffee.

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