There is nothing more festive in the pantry than a combination of pungent spice and zesty fruit. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are all common yuletide seasoning that lace cakes, puddings, sauces, chutneys and mulled drinks, the perfect additions to any seasonal cooking. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are also fantastic in festive recipes, offering an element of freshness and lift in order to balance flavours. My wholemeal orange and ginger loaf is the perfect recipe for entertaining friends for afternoon tea, or served warm with custard, cream or ice cream as a quick and easy dessert. As time is precious, this recipe uses my simple ‘devil cake’ method, combining equal measures of flour, butter and sugar, as well as gems of stem ginger, and lashings of zesty orange. To create a more wholesome crumb, I have replaced ordinary, self raising flour with wholemeal, achieving a subtle nutty undertone.
To make this recipe the star attraction at your Christmas gathering, adorn with beautifully plump redcurrants and berries, and a simple sprinkling of sugar to give some festive sparkle. Before serving - still warm from the oven - this recipe calls for even more fruity flavour in the form of an orange drizzle. Simply, take the juice of a freshly squeezed orange and combine with a couple of spoons of icing sugar. This sweet syrup is then generously poured over the warm cake and allowed to absorb, making for a sticky, moist, indulgent eat.
Due to its fruity nature, this bake is a perfect accompaniment to mulled wine or even my mulled cider, that itself is laced with generous lashings of fresh orange. This recipe is so simple, it can be baked and on the table well within the hour, so is perfect for a boxing day bake – to be enjoyed morning, noon and night, straight from the oven. Alternatively, this makes for a fantastic festive offering to take to Christmas parties, or given as an edible gift – stored in a sealed container, this cake is still delicious a couple of days after baking. That’s if it hangs around that long!
6oz Unsalted butter
6oz Caster sugar
6oz Wholemeal Self Raising Flour
3 free range eggs
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
2-3 dessert spoons icing sugar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc/Gas 4-5. Place the butter, sugar, zest and juice in a mixture, and combine on a high speed for 5 minutes.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, along with a sprinkling of flour. Slowly combine in the mixer, before increasing the speed for 20 seconds to whip the eggs and smooth the mixture – repeat after every egg addition.
3. Fold in the remaining flour, until the mixture appears smooth and glossy. Spoon into a greased and lined loaf tin creating an impression in the middle of the mixture – this ensure a level bake.
4. Cooking for around 15 minutes – remove from the oven when the loaf appears golden and an inserted knife is removed clean. Whilst the cake is cooling, make your orange drizzle.
5. Combine the juice and the icing sugar to create a sweet, slightly thickened syrup, still of pouring consistency. Create a few small holes using a sharp knife in the top of the cake, and generously the drizzle over. Allow the syrup to soak in before serving as a warm dessert, or cooling to be served as a delicious cake.
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