chocolate orange cake

I’m usually very tentative about trying new things, so this past week (as I’ve been attempting to bake outside of my comfort zone) has been a bit of a challenge for me. The tea cake worked a dream but I felt the Milo cupcakes lacked something… so this was new-thing-number-three and I had no idea if it was going to hit or miss.

But oh. my. God. This was definitely a hit. When I finished icing it the kitchen was pretty busy as my flatmates were starting to cook dinner. I cut a slice and everybody grabbed a fork/spoon to try a bit. There was a small moment of silence. That’s when you know it’s a good’un 😛

This may be one of the best chocolate cake recipes I’ve ever tried. It looks the part, with the two layers, buttercream and ganache coat – but also tastes good and is very rich and moist due to a drizzle of orange syrup after baking. The orange flavour definitely comes through. I had to alter the original recipe slightly as I only had the one circular tin and I was very worried that the {very runny} mixture was going to seep through the gap between the tin sides and base. But it all worked out ok 🙂

Altered very slightly from this recipe by Scarletscorchdroppers

Ingredients:

The cake:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 260g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp bicarb soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 90ml vegetable oil
  • 190ml boiling water
  • 1 orange (zest and half the juice)

The syrup:

  • Orange juice (from the half you didn’t use in the cake)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • Boiling water

The orange buttercream:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Orange zest
  • Icing sugar

The choc ganache:

  • 200g dark cooking chocolate
  • 200ml double cream

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a cake tin (or two, if you have them!)
Measure out the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb. soda and baking powder and mix them together along with the orange zest.
Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add the oil and milk.
Add the eggs/oil/milk to the dry ingredients and mix.
Slowly add the water, mixing between additions, and then the orange juice. I just squeezed one half of the orange through a sieve directly into the batter. Expect it to be very runny.
Pour into one tin (or divide into two) and put into the oven. One cake took around 40 minutes – make sure to test with a skewer. The original recipe suggests 25-30 minutes for two smaller cakes.
When the cake is nearly done, make up the orange syrup by squeezing the other half of the orange into a saucepan (through a sieve) and adding the sugar and a splash of hot water. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take the cake(s) out of the oven when they’re cooked and spoon the syrup over the top (don’t expect to use all of it, you don’t want them to get soggy!)
Leave the cake(s) to cool. If you’ve just made the one as I did, get a big knife and very carefully cut through it horizontally to give you two layers. The cake is fragile; I was pretty much having heart palpitations at this point. However, if the top layer breaks, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue as you can stick it back together with buttercream.
So, the next step is to actually make the buttercream. Beat the butter until it’s pale, then add icing sugar bit by bit until the mixture thickens. One of these days I’ll actually measure how much I use, sorry! It’s very much an instinct thing. Once it looks like you have enough, add the zest and mix it through. Spread the buttercream over the top of one of the cakes in an even layer and then stick the second one on top.
General consensus was that it looked like an Oreo at this point!
Now for the ganache: break up the chocolate into small pieces and put them in a heatproof bowl. Put this bowl on top of a saucepan-ful of hot water; this way the chocolate will melt slowly and you can control the heat much better than if you were microwaving it. As the chocolate is melting, warm up the cream. I’ve made the mistake of getting the cream too hot so that the chocolate burns, and that’s not a pretty sight. It just needs to be warm – so that you can dip your finger in it and not burn yourself.
Once the chocolate’s melted, pour the warm cream into it and stir. It should become very glossy. That’s all there is to making a ganache. Let it cool down for a few minutes and then apply a very thin layer of it to the cake – this is ‘crumb-coating’ it so that your second layer will be smooth and crumb-free. If you’ve got the fridge space, put both cake and ganache in there to cool down.
Keep checking the ganache though – you want it to be thick so you can spread it over the cake (think: Nutella consistency!) but if it gets too cold it will solidify. When it looks about right, cover the cake in a second coat of ganache. Decorate with orange zest if you’ve got any left over.
The question is though, how do you top a cake like this? 😛
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