While mornings here in the UK may be cold and dreary (with tickly throats and coughs galore), we’re revelling in the abundance of vitamin-C-fuelled citrus that’s in season at this time of year. Farmdrop’s resident baker, Meg Weal, shows you how to make the most of them in your cakes and bakes.
Now is the time to champion amazing blood oranges – try them in your next bake.
Whether it’s a classic lemon drizzle cake, an all-American Key Lime Pie, or a gluten-free orange and polenta cake, adding citrus flavours to sweet things is nothing new. And there’s a reason for that. Citrus fruits add zing to a boring bake and tangy depth to what could be an overly-sweet sorbet. But how do you use them to really make the most of their flavour? Classic sponges tend to be a little too sugary to carry citrus flavours properly, so it’s always a good idea to add it to your bakes in different ways. Here are some ideas to help you maximise on that zing.
In a sugar syrup
Add the juice of 4 blood oranges (or the citrus of your choosing) to a pan. Stir in 500g sugar and simmer to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle the sugar syrup over your sponge cake, and use the leftovers in cocktails, drizzled over porridge or watered down, added to ice lolly moulds and frozen for an icy sweet treat.
Try adding citrus to the buttercream on iced cakes. If you’ve got some limes kicking about, stir the zest and juice of two into this buttercream recipe (add a little more icing sugar if it loosens things up too much) for a zingy icing ready to be slathered onto a coconut sponge, or better yet, a gin-soaked sponge.
Candied citrus peel is potentially the most moreish snack known to man. You could eat them straight up, or use them to decorate your bakes. Simply boil strips of the rind in sugar and water for two hours, leave to cool and harden, or dip into dark chocolate for added indulgence. A grating of lemon and lime over your iced cakes adds colour and pick-me-up flavour too.
Got leftover rinds?
Next time you’re making meringues, give your bowl a swipe with spent lemon rinds. Your egg whites will be sure to rise.
At this time of year, blood oranges are sweet and juicy and oh so pretty.
If it’s a cake unadulterated with buttercream that you’re after, then this Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake might be just what you want. The buttery, almondy, yoghurt-based sponge is hardy enough to withstand the bitterness of the oranges on top. And drizzling over the syrup while still warm means that citrusy flavour is going to infuse the crumb brilliantly. These oranges caramelise and soften while baking to give your kitchen probably one of the best baking smells going.
Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake
For the blood oranges
– 3 tbsp light brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
– 3 blood oranges, thinly sliced
For the cake
– butter, for greasing
– 125g plain flour
– 65g ground almonds
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp salt
– 150g golden caster sugar
– zest of 1 blood orange
– 150ml olive oil
– 3 eggs
– 170g natural yoghurt
1. Grease a 20cm round cake tin with butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
2. Gently heat 240ml of water and the brown sugar in a medium pan until the sugar dissolves. Add the blood orange slices and leave to simmer and soften for 25 minutes.
3. Carefully remove the orange slices and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and reduce the sugar syrup until around one-third is left in the pan. Leave to cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Meanwhile, make the sponge: in a large bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest until fully incorporated. Add the olive oil, eggs and yoghurt to the sugar mix and whisk for around 6 minutes.
5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently fold together. The batter should be quite thick. Place the cooled orange slices into the greased tin in a single layer, overlapping them and arranging so they are in a spiral pattern. Pour over the cake mix.
6. Place in the hot oven for 40 minutes, or until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and drizzle with the sugar syrup. Leave to cool and serve.
For all of these ingredients and more, go to farmdrop.com.