I like this time of year. I realise I’m probably in the minority, but I really do like it. Frosty days, the days getting gradually longer, and blood oranges are in season. Maybe it’s the Sicilian in me (it is) but these little globes of blush-orange deliciousness are just magical. You peel one and you never quite know what you’re going to get. Some are all orange on the outside and crimson inside, some are speckled with red all through, some are blood-red at one end and orange at the other…but all are beautiful. And tasty. So tasty. Orangey with a tang, but with a sweetness that sets them apart from other oranges. The season is so short that when they come onto the scene you’ve just got to grab your opportunity and use them as much as you can. Eat them, make them into a salad (with fennel), juice them, marmalade them…and bake with them.
I got a delivery of Sicilian lemons and blood oranges from my Dad, just a few, and I was chuffed. Little did I know that a week later he would bring me a whole crate of the little round jewels!
I had a cake club coming up and was desperate to incorporate the oranges into my bake, even if the link was somewhat tenuous. After a trial blood-orange drizzle loaf cake that turned out okay, but nowhere near orangey enough, I plunged head first into making my blood orange bundt cake using the pretty NordicWare fir tree tin. It gave me the ‘trees and mountains’ link to the Winter Olympics that I needed for Cake Club theme.
This tin first came on my radar when I saw Nigella use it for her Spruced Up Vanilla Cake. Actually I think that might be the first time that Bundts came onto my radar at all. I just thought they were pretty shaped tins (which they are) but little did I know the world of Bundt that would open up to me in the future!
I borrowed this particular tin from my good friend Sarah, who is almost as Bundt crazy as me. Between us we have a range of lovely NordicWare tins that we swap and share. They’re quite pricey, as bakeware goes, but the heavy-duty quality of them makes it totally worth it. If you can find a friend with a passion and willing to share, I recommend it.
Next mission, the recipe. Lessons learnt from the trial cake, I set to creating. Here’s the recipe:
- 350g self raising flour
- 400g golden caster sugar
- 225g unsalted butter (or Stork)
- 225ml milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 blood oranges (zest of 3 and juice of 2)
Glaze and caramelised oranges
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 blood orange, thinly sliced
- 250ml water
- Preheat the oven to 160degrees and prepare the tin with cake release spray and a dusting of flour.
- Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, either with a stand mixer or a hand whisk.
- Add one egg at a time and mix slowly, until fully incorporated.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add this to the mixture, folding in slowly by hand and alternating with adding the milk.
- Add the finely grated zest of 3 oranges (I like my cake to pack a punch of flavour. None of this delicate malarkey!) and keep folding. Don’t over mix or your cake will get dense when it cooks. Don’t worry if it is a little bit lumpy.
- Add the juice of 2 oranges. When you add the juice, the mix will look a bit odd, but go with it and keep mixing gently.
- Spoon the mix into your prepared tin, making sure it gets into the pattern thoroughly. Do not fill more than ¾ full.
- Place in the centre of the oven and cook for about an hour – test it, turn it and give it another 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t worry about over-baking; Bundts are hard to burn and if you leave it an extra 5 or 10 minutes you’ll just get a thicker ‘crust’ rather than burn the cake.
- Whilst it’s cooking, make your glaze and caramelised oranges. In a non-stick frying pan, heat the sugar and water slowly until the sugar is dissolved and it’s on a slow boil. Add the slices of orange (I used the zested spare orange from the cake mix) so they are in a single layer. With the heat low, cook until the sugar syrup is lovely and thick and the oranges are soft. Mine took about 20 minutes. It should have infused with the juice from the oranges and be a pretty pale pink colour. Take the slices out and cool on a wire rack. Use the syrup to glaze, but you’ll need to do it whilst it’s still hot.
- When the cake is out, let it cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. Your cake should turn out of the tin smoothly, but don’t panic if it doesn’t, just turn it upside-down and let gravity do the work. If anything gets stuck on the tin, don’t worry, most things can be covered or repaired!
- Whilst it’s still warm, drizzle the sugar syrup glaze over the cake.
- Once everything has cooled, sprinkle the cake generously with icing sugar, pop onto a cake stand or plate and decorate with the orange slices around the base.
The result should be lovely, moist and full of orangey zing. If you make it, tell me how you get on.
I’d love to know what you’re doing with blood oranges. Let me know!