Welcome to Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. It’s probably because I’m #basic, but January depresses the crap out of me. Thank God, then, for ORANGES. The only sunshine you’ll see until bloody April, probably, and the perfect antidote to January’s misery. I’ll be buying a bag of blood oranges every time I see one, damnit, until I literally cannot fit any more into my kitchen. My mother (a wise woman) loves Seville oranges (also in season! Make some marmalade!) so much that she has preserved a huge jar of them like you would a lemon – salty and orangey and ace – and also freezes them for use later in the year. They make an excellent ceviche, jus’ saying. Maybe I’ll start doing the same with blood oranges, because I bloody love them.
This is as easy to make as any other cake, but it looks pretty cool so people are always impressed by it. It’s got a delicious bite to it from the polenta and a gorgeously caramelised topping. You could chuck a bit of rosemary into this, I imagine, to great effect, but you don’t need to because it’s really, really good anyway. Also, I tend to leave the skin on the slices that go on top because I like the bitterness, but some people are funny about eating orange peel. You could easily slice the skin off them, though.
It’s important when making this to beat the eggs, olive oil and sugar until they are REALLY light and fluffy. I learnt this to my detriment making an earlier version of this which I did by just blending everything in the food processor (so lazy) and it did not rise at all. It was like a really dense pancake. I mean it was delicious, but not well-textured, to say the least. Delicious served warm with a dollop of really thick yoghurt or some crème fraîche.
Blood Orange Cake
- 3 blood oranges (use normal oranges if you can’t get any)
- 100g ground almonds
- 80g polenta (or you can substitute this for more almonds)
- 4 eggs
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Boil two of the oranges in a pan for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Allow them to cool briefly and then puree them whole – either with a stick blender in a jug, or in a food processor.
- Line the bottom of a 23cm spring-form tin with parchment paper, then coat the bottom of the tin with a tablespoon or so of granulated sugar.
- Slice the third orange thinly and arrange the slices on the bottom of the sugared tin. Sprinkle the remaining granulated sugar over the top of the slices.
- Beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together until really light and airy.
- Gently stir the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder into the egg and olive oil mix, being careful not to knock too much of the air out of the eggs, and then stir the pureed oranges into the batter.
- Pour the cake batter over the slices of orange, and bake in the hot oven for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely in the tin before loosening the edges with a knife. The caramel will be quite sticky so make sure everything is loose before turning it out onto a plate and serving.