Thursday 27 September 2012

Chocolate orange marble cake

September.  Along with January, it’s my least favourite month of the year; when each of the two is over, I generally heave a big sigh of relief.  Why do I dislike these months so much?  I suppose, for one, because I will forever associate them with that ‘back-to-school feeling’.  On top of that of course, the weather is usually abysmal, summer and Christmas respectively are over, there are no more bank holidays or festivities to look forward to until what feels like an eternity and well, everything just feels rather ‘urgh’.

This year though, I decided I was going to make a stand and say ‘No, September!  You shall not get the better of me!  No siree!’  So to combat the humdrum of this rather drab and bleak month, I lined up lots of exciting things with which to occupy my time: I started Spanish classes, I booked myself a holiday and I packed my weekends with fun-filled events.  In fact, the weekend just gone, I attended a cake and bake show where, most excitingly, I got to meet the ‘Queen of Cakes’ herself, Mary Berry.

Now, just as teenage girls dream about meeting their idols and think up ways of how they might get the attention of the likes of Justin Bieber or Harry Styles if such a meeting were to occur, so I have been dreaming about meeting Mary and how I might get her to notice me.

I had it all planned out: our eyes would meet across the vast expanse of Earl’s Court, we’d run towards one another (yes, this bit is to be pictured in slow motion), meeting in a warm embrace, then she’d agree (simply because she clearly is that lovely) to be my surrogate grandmother and we would spend the rest of our days happily baking together in her presumably large and cosy farmhouse kitchen complete with wood-burning oven...

Hmm.  Turns out in the melee of thousands of other baking fanatics, she barely even noticed me and, for fear of a restraining order, when the moment came, I decided a hug may be a step too far, instead settling for a rather sheepish and feeble ‘hello’.  Still, I haven’t given up hope that one day our paths will cross again and, if nothing else, perhaps I’ll just get to have a nice natter with her about all things cake for five minutes.

In the meantime, meeting Mary inspired me to get baking again immediately, so the next day I made this chocolate orange marble cake, which I’ve been working on the recipe for for some time (I know, I know, I should just change the name of this blog to 'Chocolate Orange solves everything'!)  It's a lovely moist cake, with just a hint of orange to complement the chocolate and just the right amount of frosting on top.  The best bit is that I got to try out my bundt tin for the first time, but if you don't have one, a standard tin will work just fine.

For the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of two oranges and juice of half an orange
  • 50g cocoa powder mixed in 80ml hot water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the drizzle:

  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • Juice of two oranges
For the ganache frosting:

  • 200ml double cream
  • 175g plain chocolate (40% cocoa), broken up into small pieces
  • 30g butter
Preheat oven to 180c (160C fan).

Grease and line a round, deep 8 inch tin, or if using a bundt/ring tin like I did, grease and dust it lightly with cocoa powder.

For the cake, vigorously beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy (use a K-beater if using a freestanding mixer), then add the lightly beaten eggs, slowly mixing through.

Sift the flour and baking powder together three times, before adding a third to the batter. Once incorporated, add another third, slowly beat in again and then add the remaining third.

Once all the flour is incorporated, split the batter into two bowls: In one, fold in the orange zest and juice (don't worry if the batter looks a little loose or runny, it will bake fine); in the other, fold in the cocoa powder, sunflower oil and salt.
For the marble effect, place spoonfuls of the orange batter in your tin, leaving gaps between each spoonful.  Then take your chocolate batter and place spoonfuls in the gaps. Repeat the process a second/third time until all your batter has been spooned out.  Now take a palette knife and gently swirl the two batters together to create a pretty pattern.  I found swirling in figure of eight motions all the way around the tin to be an effective method.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a thin skewer or knife inserted into the deepest part of your cake comes out clean.
To make the drizzle, mix together the orange juice and golden caster sugar.  As soon as your cake is out of the oven, pierce the top in several places with your knife or skewer, then with a pastry brush, gently brush your drizzle across the top of the cake until it's all been used up.
For the ganache, place the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl.  Separately, heat the cream in a saucepan to boiling point, then pour it over the chocolate and butter and stir gently until you have a lovely, glossy ganache.  Pour the ganache over your cake and leave to set.