Monday, 14 July 2014

Orange and Lemon Cake

The rains are juuuust setting in.... and I love the monsoon. Set aside the flooded roads, mucky pathways and how my dog smells after getting wet on his walks, I love the sentiments the rains bring. I get nostalgic, and I'm reminded of paper boats, and raincoats, muddy puddles, rain dancing and rain holidays in school. You've heard me say that baking is a good activity for any season of the year, and yes it is, but it's special in the monsoon. It's a perfect rainy day activity. As the kitchen fills up with the aroma of freshly baked cake, some good music to set the ambience and raindrops on the balcony railings, baking can be so much fun. I know I sound 30 years older saying this, but truth is I'd be happy spending a weekend doing just this..

This orange cake,  is from my go to cake book, Cake by Rachel Allen, which by the way is available at a discounted rate on Amazon, right now :). This is her recipe for St. Clement's drizzle cake, which is named after the bells in the famous nursery rhyme. Famous apparently, because I never heard of  it. Oooops.
The cake is a lovely citrus cake, inside out, and it uses a combination of oranges and lemons, like in that famous rhyme.
I enjoyed this cake and it kept well in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The cake is made in a loaf tin and then drizzled with orange and lemon juice, while it is still hot, letting the cake soak up all the citrus flavour.

I used a medium sized loaf tin for the cake. The recipe suggests you the line the base and sides of the loaf tin with baking parchment, with the paper coming above the sides of the tin, enabling the cake to be lifted out easily when baked. I however, skipped this part and instead gave it a good greasing of butter and a dusting of flour. Yes, I use short cuts, aaaaallllllll the time.

The cake needs very few ingredients and the method is fairly simple. It's the usual, beat butter sugar, eggs and flour kind. I started by zesting the lime and the orange. My zester is of so much help. I loved seeing the long lovely strands of orange peel. Same with the lime. You can also use a vegetable peeler or a cheese grater to zest the fruit. Just make sure you peel only the first layer of skin, and not the bitter white pith.

 The orange and lemon zest add a lovely flavour to the cake and such a dash of colour. Once you have zested the fruits, squeeze the juice and keep it aside to make the icing later.

From here on the process is very simple. Also the recipe is fairly easy because it uses equal amounts of flour, butter and sugar; something like a pound cake. Well almost. So first I beat the softened butter . I almost always don't remember/bother keeping the butter out to soften. Thank heavens for microwaves, I just measure the amount of butter I need, put it in my baking bowl and defrost it in the microwave in 10-15 seconds spurts. You don't really want to end up with melted butter, and it's just a matter of seconds that decides whether it's soft or melted. 

Coming back to the recipe, sugar was the usual next ingredient and followed by a couple of eggs. Eggs in a cake batter are always always always added one at a time, I have never bothered finding out why, but it's just a rule. So in goes one egg, you beat it till it is incorporated, and then goes the next and you repeat the process. Also don't over beat a cake mixture at any stage, it loses it fluffiness. 

And finally to go in the batter were milk, zest and flour. The cake takes about 45 mins to bake and it turns a nice golden brown on the top when it has baked. I love the sight of that lovely brown crust. It reminds me of the sponge cake I used to bake as a kid, it was also almost the ONLY cake I baked and I never ever got tired of it. I juuuuuust realized that I haven't baked that sponge cake for a really long time now, so there, one more rainy day activity on the list.

The icing for the cake is really simple, it's just the orange and lemon juice mixed with granulated sugar. Make sure to use granulated sugar, it gives the cake a slight crunch. The recipe suggested 100 gms sugar, but in my last minute effort to cut down on the calories,( such a futile attempt, since I gorged on the cake anyway) I used only about 50 gms of sugar, and it was sweet enough for me.

 When the cake had baked, I let it cool for about 5 minutes, before I tapped it out on to a tray and immediately drizzled the icing all over the cake. To allow the cake to soak up all the syrup, the recipe suggests to prick the cake with a skewer times, before you drizzle the icing, this way, the syrup makes it way to all over the cake. Then, once the cake has cooled, (yeah, too bad you got to let it cool, before you take a bite; it's difficult to cut a slice while it is still warm,) cut into slices. I enjoyed this cake at tea time, but it's a perfect bite for any time of the day. I managed to save some for over a day and it stayed well refrigerated for a couple of days. I look forward to baking it another time real soon...

Here's the recipe :

Orange and Lemon Cake
Adapted from : Cake by Rachel Allen


For the cake :
175 gms butter softened
175 gms castor sugar ( I used powdered granulated sugar)
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
50 ml milk
175 gms flour
1 1/2  tsp baking powder

For the icing :
Juice of 1 lime and 1 orange
Sugar 50 gms ( The recipe states 100gms)

Method :

1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 180 C. Butter a medium sized loaf tin and dust with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
2.Cream the butter and sugar till it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and mix till they are just incorporated.
3. Beat in the orange and lemon zest, followed by the milk.
4. Fold in the flour sifted with the baking powder.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
6. As the cake cooks, make the icing syrup. For the syrup, pour the lemon and orange juice in a bowl and mix well with the granulated sugar
7.When the cake has baked, let it cool in the tray for 5 mins, then gently tap it on to a tray. Prick it with a toothpick all over and then drizzle the syrup all over the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely, and then cut into slices to serve.

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