A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dark Chocolate & Orange Cake

This cake is among the most fun foods I've ever made. It ranks with the peanut butter/raisin/powdered milk logs I made all by myself at age 10. It is that fun.

Lawson's cousin was up from Florida for Thanksgiving and gave us a bunch of wonderful citrus, all of which are threatening to rot at once because, try as we might, we have been unable to eat 40 tangerines in two weeks. So I have been looking for good ways to use them, especially the many, many oranges.

I started thinking about oranges and chocolate and how I like the flavors together and would like to make a cake consisting of the two. Not a single one of my cookbooks had a recipe. But when I looked online I found hordes...and they were all British. Apparently Jaffa cakes, which I had heard of, are chocolate-and-orange flavored, so the taste combination is well established over there. And every British cook from Claudia Roden to Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a chocolate orange cake. I read many recipes, a task made difficult by all the volume and weight and temperature conversions, and eventually narrowed down what I was looking for.

I mostly used this one, with narrative encouragement provided here and further ganache research in the Joy of Cooking. My converted and revised version is posted below so you can avoid all the math yourself.

Here's why the recipe is so fun: you boil WHOLE ORANGES until they are soft, then chuck the entire orange in the food processor. The boiling tones down the bitterness of the pith, just like when you make marmalade. And, in fact, Nigella Lawson's recipe calls for a high quality marmalade instead of an orange. But that would be both expensive and no fun at all.

The ganache is also fun, because it's so easy and looks so fancy.

Dark Chocolate & Orange Cake

- 1 large or two small oranges
Pierce and cook in a covered pan with a few inches of boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove to a food processor and pick out the seeds before processing the whole thing until broken down but still coarse.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 or 9 inch round cake tin or springform pan.

- 3 eggs
- 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup good canola oil (recipe calls for sunflower, which isn't common or cheap here)
- 4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces and melted

Lightly beat the eggs, sugar, and oil. Gradually beat in the pureed orange and melted chocolate.

- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 250g/9oz plain flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Mix and pour into the buttered pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack.

For the ganache:

- 8 oz good bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- 3 fl oz or 1/3 cup cream...or half and half, which is what I had around, which worked beautifully.

Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a pan, pour over the chocolate, and stir until melted, then whisk until glossy and totally smooth. Let cool to about 90 degrees F and pour over the cooled cake (which I inverted because it was a bit cracked and domed on the top).


Kris said...

I had NO IDEA that ganache was this easy! I can hardly wait to make this recipe. We're having lunch guests next weekend and this will be perfect.

Ann said...

This looks wonderful. Oranges and dark choclate... can it get any better?

Ann at Redacted Recipes

Eva said...

Thanks, Ann!

Mom, let me know how this worked out for you.

Kris said...

I made this cake today. It is so wonderful--moist, unusual because of the orange particles and flavor, and surprisingly light. That's a lot of oil for a little cake, but I suppose that's why it's so good.

I have never made ganache before. I HATE frosting with its powdered-sugar-and-lardy taste, in fact that's why I shun most cakes. But ganache solves all those problems.

(You know those grocery store cakes that people bring to office birthday parties, with their 3/4-inch layer of frosting? They make my skin crawl. This could even become a full-blown phobia if I let it.)

I wonder if you meant to say 4 ounces of chocolate in your ganache recipe? I checked with Joy of Cooking because I just didn't think 3 little ounces of cream could melt 8 ounces of chocolate. I am serving this to John and Kathy tomorrow with black bean soup, garlic bread, and salad from the garden if we can keep it from freezing tonight.

Eva said...

I'm pretty sure I used 8 ounces of chocolate in the ganache, just like the BBC-Lancashire recipe says. It worked fine.

7th grader said...

wow, i tried this cake and it was the best ever!!!!!! I looked all over the internet for a perfect chocolate orange layer cake and came across this. Yum! you saved my life. cuase i couldnt find a better recipe for my guild fair. thank you

Kris said...

So I made this cake again yesterday for Nancy O'Brien's birthday, and it was so wonderful. Next time I need to remember to use my 10-inch springform pan, because a 9-inch cake pan doesn't hold all the batter (of course I do have a few cupcakes in the freezer because of that!). Also, a note to myself: use 4 ounces of chocolate and 2 ounces of half and half for the ganache.

Eva said...

I forgot about this cake! Yum. I'll have to think of an excuse to make it again.