Sunday, 26 October 2014
Blood Orange Hazelnut Cake
Yes, that's a lovely photo of a very pretty cake, but there's more, the cringe inducing tale of a truly awful pavlova...
It's been just over a year since the orange chiffon cake made its debut at a family get together, Mr B's grandfather's 95th birthday lunch; this I realised when my MIL asked if I'd make dessert for Pa's 96th. Mr B's mum was flicking through the September issue of the Gourmet Traveller and selected a gorgeous looking blood orange and hazelnut cake, chosen not simply for its beauty, but for its appeal to the older generation.
Guest numbers grew, a cake alone would not do; something reliable, tested, that i could bake with my eyes closed was needed as back up. Pavlova, passionfruit curd, raspberries, simple, delicious. I made the cake and passionfruit curd the night before, hopped up early the next morning feeling pretty smug to make the pavlova. Total fricken disaster. Worst pavlova I've made in my LIFE. I'm guessing what I thought was cornflour probably wasn't. It looked kind of okay, a bit grainy, maybe a hint of grey. Pavlovas are great, heaped with fruit and cream they are pretty forgiving, not this pav. Just prior to serving I topped it with passionfruit curd, pillows of cream and a gorgeous mound of matt raspberries. It looked pretty amazing for about 5 minutes until it slowly collapsed into an extremely expensive raspberry and passionfruit puddle. In a typical twist of irony most guests went with the puddle. Family are forgiving, but there was no hiding, it was awful.
The blood orange and hazelnut cake, it was good, as lovely as the photo in the magazine, a refined pineapple upside down cake for a new generation. It was straightforward to make, I may have bought the wrong polenta, my batter was strange, not quite curdled but definitely different! It baked like a dream, came out of the pan without a hitch and looked amazing. Click here for the original recipe, I followed it pretty closely just a slight reduction in the sugar content. I poured the extra syrup over the cake before we cut slices, don't do that, it was super sweet and left the cake a bit wet in the centre. Next time I'll switch the ground hazelnuts for almonds, I think it may even be better.
Blood Orange topping
200 caster sugar
125ml freshly squeezed and strained blood orange juice
2 blood oranges
• butter a 25 cm spring form cake pan and line the base with baking paper
• finely slice the blood oranges, I used a mandolin but completely understand if this freaks you out, I have the scar and slight loss of feeling in my right index finger...
• tip the sugar and juice into a medium pan, stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves
• add the orange slices to the pan, simmer gently for 10 minutes until the skins are tender
• cool the slices in the pan, then remove, reserving the syrup, arrange the slices on the base of the cake tin, pour over 100ml of the reserved syrup, pour the rest into a jug to serve with the cake
Blood Orange and Hazelnut cake
350g caster sugar
6 large eggs
260g ground hazelnuts
150g fine polenta
150g plain flour
zest and juice of 1 blood orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
blood orange juice
• preheat your oven to 180ºC and leave your ingredients to come to room temperature
• cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
• combine the hazelnuts and polenta in a bowl, add half to the creamed butter and sugar
with the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before you add the next, scraping the mixture from the side of the bowl as you go
• add the remaining ingredients and fold carefully to combine
• spoon the mixture carefully over the sliced oranges, smoothing the top with the back of your spoon
• bake in the centre of your oven for 1 hour, test with a skewer or cake tester, it should come out clean
• cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out of the tin and leave on a rack until completely cooled
serve slices of the cake with greek yoghurt or whipped cream, warm the extra syrup for the sweet tooths! The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days
Thanks AGT for the recipe, it's a wonderful cake; and because it's spring, here's a pretty, floral shot with a few of my favourite things :)