Ladies Who Lunch: Orange and lemon cake

Technically, this should be called Ladies Who Dine, but that’s not how Elaine Stritch would have put it. This was the dessert that I made for the girls this week, which is quite close to the orange, ginger and allspice cake that I made last year. The idea behind having this light cake in the middle of winter, especially around Christmas time, is that the citrus flavour almost acts like a palate cleanser to relieve us from all the heavy food we demolish at this time of year.

And boy do we need a bit of citrus and colour in our lives in Brussels. I took the below photo last week and now all the glitz and glamour of autumn is over.

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With Christmas only around the corner, I was able to brighten up my apartment with red and silver sparkles. It still looks glum in this light, but the flowers and candles help too. This was also the scene of the Great Computer Fixing Triumph 2014, so I had to savour the memory.

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I love the word savour, it sounds so tasty and warm. I can confirm that this orange and lemon cake is tasty when both warm and cold, having just eaten the last morsel left in the fridge, three days after making it. I cut the recipe out of a newspaper back in winter 2012 and the only omission I made was in not grinding my own almonds, but using ready-ground almonds. The author of the recipe recommends this because home ground almonds leave a grittier texture. Maybe next time I’ll do that…or buy a t-shirt emblazoned with “Life Is Too Short To Blitz Almonds”. I would also like to add some extra lemon, but that depends on your own taste.

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Orange and lemon cake

Ingredients

Zest of one lemon and one large orange

75ml orange and lemon juice

250g softened butter

250g caster sugar

4 eggs

150g plain flour

100g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

For the drizzle

100ml of orange and lemon juice (if there is more or less juice than 175ml in total, the difference can be added or reduced here, but make sure to also change the amount of sugar used)

100g sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a baking tin.

Beat the butter, zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds and baking powder and beat, slowly at first to avoid getting flour all over the kitchen. You could also alternate their addition – one egg, beat, flour, beat, one egg, almonds, etc etc.

Add the 75ml of juice and mix it in gently. Pour the mix into the baking tin and put it in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the drizzle, mix the 100ml of juice with the 100g of sugar in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mix to the boil and simmer.

Remove the pan from the heat, allow it to cool slightly and then spoon the syrup over the cake. Do this in stages to allow the juice to really sink in. The cake is delicious when served with Greek yogurt, which makes the flavours stand out even more.

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