I love this gluten free Orange Cake. It is moist, heady with the scent and tang of orange and gorgeously sharable. Having had a crappy start to 2018, I decided that this would be my birthday treat….. No-one else was planning to make my birthday special with a cake, so I figured I would grab the opportunity for a bit of baking therapy and make it myself!
If I am honest, I am not really being critical of the lack of enthusiasm for my birthday from others….. It hasn’t really felt like a reason to celebrate this year, partly because I am still trying to come to terms with the loss of my mother in January and that of my brother a couple of years ago. The loss of two family members so close together is a reminder that life is just too short….. Something needs to change in my world and soon…… The daily grind is not meeting my needs, either emotional or spiritual and I feel that somewhere along the way I got lost in anger and frustration and I don’t want to be stuck there any more. Mid life crisis? I think so.
Whilst I am planning my route to betterness, baking cake will provide some ‘down time’ and a means of giving and caring….. birthday or not.
I have shared this cake before…… not on the blog, but with colleagues and friends. On every occasion, the recipients have retreated into silent munching interspersed with a happy ‘mmm’ (which I generally take to be a sign of grateful satisfaction), followed by feedback that has made me blush! I love that a simple cake can provide a sense of shared enjoyment…… it is a nice thing to give and is often my way of saying I care, or apologising for my shitty mood and attitude…… and recently my mood and attitude have been more than shitty!
Is it just me or do other people have periods in life when it feels that the negative energy just grabs hold and won’t let go? Everything you touch bites back….. Every time you start to get back on your feet, something else happens that smacks you down. I need to find a way to change the energy……
But enough self-absorbed waffle….. let’s get back to the cake….. Made with plenty of ground almonds and some home-made buttermilk, it stays moist and fresh. If anything, the crumb improves over a couple of days….. far from the often dry and crumbly gluten free offerings.
To make the cake extra celebratory, I filled and decorated it with some creamy, decadent orange buttercream, touched with a swirl of orange curd. When I have made the cake previously, I layered the buttercream and curd, but this made the cake a bit slippery to stack, so for this bake I have mixed the two elements together.
The home-made jelly made with the juice of blood oranges, not only gives this cake the wow factor, but adds a deliciously contrasting texture which marries beautifully against the sponge and velvety butter cream. Finished with a sparkle of edible gold heart sprinkles and some sugar flowers takes it from tea time cake to a show-stopping and very special treat….. For those of you who venture to make it, I hope you fall in love with it as much as we have…..
Orange Cake (makes a 2 x 9 inch or 3 x 7 inch sandwich cake)
190g unsalted butter – softened
400g icing sugar – sifted
pinch fine sea salt
½ teaspoon orange extract
3 to 4 heaped teaspoons orange curd
120g sieved orange juice (I used freshly squeezed blood orange)
1 tablespoon icing sugar
3g sheet gelatine
I used sugar flowers and gold stars
- Sponge : Base-line two 9 inch or three 7 inch cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum salt and almonds (I weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- Pour the milk and vinegar into a jug and stir so that the liquid becomes clumpy. Set aside.
- Use an electric whisk to cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Gradually add the egg a little at a time and beat thoroughly between each addition until fully amalgamated.
- Add and beat through the vanilla and orange extracts and orange zest.
- Add and gently fold in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, alternating wet with dry about a third at a time, until it has all been added.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the tins and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Orange Curd Butter Icing : Beat the butter until smooth, then gradually add and beat in the icing sugar, salt, orange extract and curd until well-blended, light and creamy.
- Sandwich together the sponge cakes with a generous layer of butter icing.
- Use a large palette knife and cake scraper to spread a thin layer of butter icing around the sides and top of the cake, then pipe rosettes tightly round the top edge (making sure there are no gaps as this will form the wall that will prevent the jelly escaping) and round the base using a large open star tip. Place in the fridge to firm up slightly.
- Orange Jelly : Hydrate the gelatine by placing the sheets flat, in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the juice either in a small saucepan or in a jug in the microwave.
- Add the icing sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Whilst the juice is still hot, add the softened gelatine and stir until completely dissolved.
- Set aside at room temperature, stirring frequently until the liquid is cold and just beginning to thicken very slightly (but is still liquid and pourable).
- Pour the jelly onto the top of the cake (inside the icing surround) and place in the fridge to set.
- Decorate with sparkles and sugar flowers and serve.