… some of my slightly older readers may remember a time when there was no other option but vegetable oil. Good old-fashioned sun-flower oil, use it for everything. This was in the blurry days after lard became evil but well before anyone British born and bred had ever hear of olive oil, let alone the phrase extra virgin… salad dressings came in a bottle and were usually of the creamed variety. Fortunately with the popularity of Mediterranean travel and the gentle persuasion of people such as Sir Terrance Conran and his terracotta styled 1980’s we seemed to have embraced it into the bosom of our homes and i’m sure, like me, many of you could not imagine a world without it. In fact we now seem to have gone off into another direction and are beginning to treat EVOO with a reverence once only deemed fit for wine but now bestowed to the humblest of ingredients from coffee to flour. I think i’ve been cooking with EVOO for a good twenty years now but rarely bake it into cakes which is madness as it tastes rather sublime…
olive oil and blood-orange cake
i’m trying to sneak in some mid-week bakes from the London kitchen but with mixed results. As you know I have issues with the London oven, it’s fine for savoury things that are happy with a blast of heat with no timings needed but with anything other than a tray-bake i’ve had real problems… but i’m a persistent bugger and I think I cracked it with this little beauty of a cake which rose gloriously and is wonderfully light and moist inside… the taste is a little unusual but I think that is all for the best… I also think this is a perfect cake for a bloody valentine which is why I added the blood red honey and icing topping but then I’m a little sick in the head like that!
for the cake
2 small seedless blood oranges – skin on
80ml extra virgin olive oil
260g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons orange blossom honey (or regular honey)
150g icing sugar
a few drops of red food colouring (optional)
grease and line a 20cm spring-form cake tin and preheat your oven to 180C
sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together
with a sharp knife cut a slither off the top and bottom of both oranges to remove the stalk and navel and then place the oranges in a bowl and blitz them with a hand-held blender until nearly smooth – this stage could also be done in a countertop blender – then add the olive oil and blitz again until fully blended although it doesn’t need to be entirely smooth
in another bowl whisk the eggs until light and frothy then slowly and alternately fold one third of the egg followed by one third of the flour into the orange and oil mixture, gently so as not to knock the air out of the whisked eggs
pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 50-60 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
set aside to cool
to make the icing simply place the honey into a pan and heat gently, then add the sugar and food colouring if using and stir together and paint onto the cooled cake.
eat and of course, enjoy!