This is just great for winter – a great blast of sunny orange flavour, but rather than coming from a delicious healthy glass of juice, it’s mediated through a sugary cake, made amazingly moist and dense with ground almonds. Stodge is a very important mood-lifter in the dark evenings of December.
If you have visitors this Christmas who don’t like Christmas pudding or Christmas cake, this is a very good alternative. It’s rich, heavy and very luxurious in mouth-feel, and while a spoonful of brandy butter or a slug of cream might feel like overkill, it’d be a pretty handsome variety of overkill. If you do plan on making this for Christmas and want to kick it up a level, add three tablespoons of Cointreau or another orange liqueur to the orange juice you pour over at the end, when the cake comes out of the oven. Do not use Blue Curaçao, for obvious reasons.
250g salted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
50g plain flour
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond essence
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a springform tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. (You really do need an electric mixer for this recipe, I’m afraid.) Beat the eggs and add them a tablespoon at a time to the butter and sugar mixture along with a tablespoon of flour, whisking as you go and adding more until the last batch is incorporated.
Fold the ground almonds into the batter and add the juice of 1 orange, the zest from both oranges and the almond essence. Stir the liquid ingredients gently and use a spatula to move the cake mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for 1 hour, checking halfway through to make sure the cake isn’t browning too quickly (if it is, just put a tinfoil hat on it). The cake will leave a toothpick pushed into the centre clean when it’s ready. Remove from the heat, sprinkle over the icing sugar and poke little holes all over the top of the cake. Strain the juice from the remaining orange to get rid of any pulpy bits and spoon it evenly all over the surface of the cake. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes, remove to a rack and when completely cool, wrap carefully for a few hours before serving to allow the flavours to meld and the stickiness to reach a lovely peak.