A beautifully vibrant fruit enjoyed in the darkest of months, the blood orange is stunning this time of year!
Giving hope that sunnier times are surely ahead of us, blood orange’s vivid colour and citrusy scent is brilliant for adding vibrancy and vigour to dishes whether the focus is savoury or sweet.
Due to our somewhat drab climate in comparison to the tropical Med, unfortunately us Brits will probably never have the sun kissed conditions to grow these fragrant fruits, but our sun-blushed friends on the continent have plenty to share round it would seem. Imported by the bucket load predominantly from Spain and Italy, blood oranges are a sure sign on our supermarket shelves that spring is just round the corner!
Although now commonly grown and sourced from Mediterranean countries, basking in all-year-round sun, origins of the blood orange is thought to have been further East in the Asian continent with particular ancestral links to China and Indian where the more bitter variety can still be found.
Its season stretches from December and May, peaking in late February and into March. The blood orange’s tart characteristics makes it a vibrant citrus fruit with a hint of summer sweetness, making the perfect addition to baking, salads and delicate fish dishes.
It’s acidic tartness helps to cut through richer ingredients but with a hint of sweetness, blood oranges are brilliant for counteracting more sharp flavour profiles, instantly making them more versatile and a little more interesting than its brother, the conventional orange!
From a food stylist’s point of view the blood orange is a stunning addition to the plate. Its red-marbled flesh, and burgundy, mottled skin brings much needed vibrancy to hardy winter ingredients commonly found this time of year. They add great colour to baking as well as spring citrus to sponges and desserts. Sliced through with the skin still intact, the beautifully blushed segments simply sing Mediterranean colour. A stunning fruit that we should praise the continent for growing!
170 g self raising flour
50 g ground almonds
225 g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 blood oranges
150 ml Fussels rapeseed oil
4 free range eggs
Icing sugar to decorate
Preheat oven to 180c/gas mark 4
Place the flour, almonds, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl. Finely grate in the zest of 2 oranges along with 75 ml of juice, before adding the oil and the eggs. Mix well in a food mixer, or by hand, until all the ingredients are combined and a smooth batter forms.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined baking tray. Slice the final orange into thin 1cm slices and carefully lay them into the top of the batter, trying to avoid them sinking.
Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden brown. The top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed and a knife comes out cleanly when put into the centre of the cake.
Place on a wire tray to cool. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar before serving.
Photo Credit: Neil White | Styling & Recipe: Helen Upshall