Frank Sinatra once said that orange was “the colour of hapiness”…well Frankie baby, you didn’t know true happiness because you never tasted this mouth watering blood orange cake.
Whenever I return to Sicily during the cooler Winter months I always try to devour as many delicious blood oranges as humanly possible. Largely grown in the area known as the Piana di Catania, on the foot of Mt Etna, these life affirming oranges are venerated worldwide for their unique taste and high nutritional value. The rich and furtile soil found on the slopes of Mt Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, provide the perfect growing conditions to produce blood oranges that are bursting with flavour and vibrancy and are like no other orange in the world. In wintertime, when the fruit is at it’s peak, the contrast between the warm mediterranean climate and the fresh ice cold snow on the slopes of the volcano cause a reaction in the fruit which turns the flesh an even deeper shade of ruby red.
This show stopping cake uses the beautiful tarocco blood oranges from Sicily as its star ingredient, however, you can use any blood oranges for this delicious recipe, or even regular oranges if blood oranges aren’t in season. This is by far one of my favourite cakes and it is so simple to make yet the finished result is quite spectacular. The use of natural yoghurt balances out the sweetness beautifully. You will not be disappointed!
For the orange base
- 2-3 blood oranges, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of caster sugar
- ½ cup water
For the cake batter
- 180g/6oz caster sugar
- 200g/7oz butter
- 200g/7oz almond meal
- ½ cup plain flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup natural yogurt
Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Line a 25cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
In a medium saucepan, pour the water and sugar and melt over low to medium heat. Turn up the heat to medium high and place the blood orange slices into the melted sugar water. Bring to a boil and then turn down a little and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the orange peel becomes semi translucent. Remove the orange slices gently with tongs and place on a sheet of baking paper and allow to cool. Boil the remaining syrup until it becomes slightly thicker.
Brush some of the syrup onto the lined cake tin and then line the entire tin with the orange slices, going all the way to the top. I find it easier to start with the curved edge first.
In a food processor, cream the butter and sugar until mixed well and then add eggs, one at a time. Stir in almond meal, flour, baking powder, and yogurt and mix until just combined. Spoon into the cake tin, being careful not to dislodge the orange slices. Bake for an hour until top is golden and firm and a skewer can be inserted and comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes to allow the cake to become sturdy. Place a large plate over the tin and turn over carefully and remove the baking paper. Serve with natural yogurt, a sprinkle of orange zest, a nice cool glass of passito dessert wine, and a liberal dose of Frank Sinatra!