Holus bolus – whole orange cakeApril 26, 2009
The dimpled things in life are often the best.
Why does the idea of making a cake using a whole orange – peel, pith, flesh & all – appeal to me so deeply? Apart from the taste and texture of the purely gorgeous orange and quince cake we’ve made twice in the last couple of weeks, from Jared Ingersoll’s Danks Street Depot Sharing Plates book, there’s just something I absolutely love about chucking a whole piece of otherwise fiddly fruit into a cake.
There are lots of different variations on this cake, which seems to have originated with the classic Claudia Roden Middle Eastern Orange Cake. Some (like hers & Jared’s, which I will now refer to as ours) use almond meal instead of flour (and are thus perfect for gluten-intolerant folk) but otherwise whole-orange-cake devotees appear to divide into two camps – old boilers and cold callers.
Old boilers are those whose recipes involve boiling the orange(s), often for up to two hours, before pureeing. Cold callers can’t be bothered with this and recommend simply chucking the orange in holus bolus, uncooked.
According to Jared – whose recipe, even apart from the quinces, is more complicated than some in that he urges one to bring two oranges in cold water to the boil six times, chucking and refreshing the water each time – boiling draws out any bitterness from the skin and makes it soft enough to pulp easily.
But according to the Empress, one of my solid-gold sources of foodie facts, that’s a load of old cobblers and there’s no bitterness at all in the unboiled variety – her fave is a Damien Pignolet version which she reckons is the simplest cake in the world.
I’m yet to check my own results without boiling, but will do so soon.
Anyway, here are a few recipes to compare. The only one I’ve made is Jared’s so I can’t vouch for any of the others, but they all sound rather good.
- Jared Ingersoll’s Orange and Quince Cake – I’m not including the link to the quince-cooking part, but it’s there in the book (they’re cooked in red wine and are soooo good).*
- The Claudia Roden original Middle Eastern Orange Cake, via Sydney’s Not Quite Nigella who adds the twist of blood oranges (and beautiful photos!)
- Kuidaore’s version of Stephanie Alexander’s version – and this blog has a lovely discussion of oranges in general, with accompanying recipes.
- This one, which has a very delicious-sounding botrytis syrup (mmm, booze and sugar, two of my favourite things).
- This one from Lucy Porter via the ABC
- This Women’s Weekly version (how could you doubt it?)
- Am hoping the Empress will be persuaded to log in some time and add her version of Damien Pignolet’s below …
*A note on quinces. Ours, pictured here simply because I think they look beautiful (although not quite as beautiful as Jamie’s) came from a friend’s tree in Bathurst, and although we had to cut out a bit of yucky brown stuff from the middle of all of them (they were unsprayed) they were divine. We made two cakes from that batch of quinces, and as the second time around we were a bit thin on quincy goodness we added some poached pear segments to the quince quotient, and it was darn-licious. Also boiled up the poaching liquid to a thick syrup and sloshed over the top of the second cake …. mmmmmm. Oh and another note, it may be just me but whenever a cake recipe says cook for an hour, I always seem to end up cooking it for two. Which we needed to do, both times, with this one.