Another birthday and another cake is called for in order to celebrate in style. In the winter months, it is the orange that is the most delicious fruit of all. I have so many recipes for orange cakes, each of them slightly different. This recipe combines my three favourite features of my many recipes, namely: polenta and ground almonds rather than flour, a whole orange, pureed, rather than just the zest and the peel, and finally the use of a heritage bundt tin. I truly love my heritage bundt tin, but it’s a risky business using it. I can never be entirely sure whether the cake will actually come out in one piece. The best advice I was given on how to avoid the dangers of the bundt tin was by Helen Goh, co- author of the Ottolenghi book Sweet, and that was to use room temperature butter, not melted, to liberally grease the tin and then dust it with flour. I followed this advice and most of it came out! The cake was a huge hit, it was full of flavour, looked great and brought a smile to the face of the birthday boy.
Butter (room temperature) for greasing
8 green cardamom pods
225g ground almonds
100g polenta (extra for dusting the tin)
1 heaped tsp baking powder
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 whole orange (Boiled for 1 hour, then blended)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of 2 oranges
3 teaspoons of honey
3 teaspoons rose water
50g chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
A few drops of rose water
- Put the whole orange in a saucepan half filled with water. Boil for an hour or until a sharp knife will go through the orange easily. Be careful not to let the water boil away!
- When the orange is soft, allow it to cool then roughly chop in to pieces. Remove the pips and blend into a puree. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas mark 4. Grease the bundt tin with butter at room temperature. Dust with the polenta.
- Take the seeds out of the cardamom pods and crush with a pestle and mortar. In a bowl, add the cardamom together with the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder.
- Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl until the mixture is light and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Tip the bowl of dry ingredients into this mixture and fold with a spatula until combined. Add the orange puree and the vanilla extract and fold through.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place it in the middle shelf of the oven and bake 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
- Prepare the syrup by placing all the ingredients into a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a steady simmer.
- Pierce holes all over the cake with a skewer while the cake is cooling and pour over the syrup a little at a time, until the cake soaks it up.
- Mix the icing sugar and the rose water to make the icing sugar. Put it in a piping bag and pipe it along the grooves. This helps the pistachios and orange zest to stick and it also helps to hide any imperfections in the cake!
- Sprinkle the chopped pistachio in alternate grooves of the cake and in the others sprinkle the orange zest (I like to use longer strands of orange zest).