Thursday, April 7, 2011

Time for Birthday Cake!

Each time there is any sort of a celebration in our house, be it a festive holiday or a birthday, I habitually pull out my Nigella books. It's really a pleasure to have an excuse to browse through them again and "Feast" is invariably the winner when it comes to celebrations. I do love that book and quite honestly most of Nigellas recipes in general. I won't say it's a problem, but she's obviously not as driven to take the healthy option as me, so her recipes spell indulgence. All the more fun.

Anyway, my husband just caught up with me; he was 40 a couple of days ago. So I left out "Feast" for him to peruse and choose his cake. My strong pointers were the chocolate guinness cake or the chocolate orange (again that theme!). It's lucky he's a fan of chocolate too, or maybe we would not be a match!

Anyway, he chose the chocolate orange, which pleased me, not only because I adore the combination, but the cake has a very unusual composition as you'll see. I suppose it could be argued there's a nod to the healthy here; the cake has no butter or regular flour, but's it still a cake and tastes very decadent.

This cake suits my lifestyle very well; as I've mentioned before, I'm a planner, so the fact that the orange needs cooked for 2 hours and cooled, suited me fine. I did it the day before and kept it in the fridge. One less step on the big day. I also made my own ground almonds, as I was so outraged at the cost of pre-ground almonds in my supermarket. I just whizzed them up in the food processor with a little sugar which apparantly helps absorb the oil and they are then less likely to turn into almond butter.

As you'll see from the photos, the girls loved it too; my 4 year old actually requested it for her birthday too (although it's likely that request will be replaced many times in the next 6 months!).

Chocolate Orange Cake
adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, Feast

Chocolate Orange Cake (with 2 year old hovering dangerously close)


2 small or 1 large, thin skinned orange
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups/ 200g ground almonds
1 1/4 cups/ 250g superfine or caster sugar
1/2 cup/ 50g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

  1. Place the orange(s) in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 2 hours or until they are soft.
  2. Drain the the orange and cool it. When the orange is cool, preheat the oven to 350°F
  3. Butter an 8" springform pan, then line it with parchment paper.
  4. Cut the orange in half to remove the seeds, and pulse the whole orange in the food processor.
  5. To the orange, add the eggs, baking powder, baking soda, ground almonds, sugar and cocoa. Pulse until it is mixed thoroughly.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and place in the center of the oven for approximately 1 hour or until the tester comes out clean.
  7. I loosely covered mine in foil for the last 20 minutes as it seemed to be cooking too quickly. (Nigella's tip)
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan and when cold remove and decorate.

Now, here's the surprising thing, Nigella recommends just a few orange peels on top, but my children (and I quite frankly) objected. Just not birthday-ish enough. So I made a quick cream cheese frosting (low fat cream cheese and confectioner sugar) then added some zested orange. Smeared it all over and all good except we couldn't get a candle to stay upright, hence the candle in the orange.


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