If my mum wasn’t making carrot cake using carrots from our farm, she was making her orange cake from the amazing orange trees we had growing on the Hawkesbury river bank of our property.
Firstly, this is not her orange cake recipe. I phoned my mum last week and she shared with me her traditional Maltese orange cake recipe. It is traditional in the sense that this is the recipe that she always used for orange cake in our household. I am sure every Maltese family have a different recipe which they use. As oranges grow so well in Malta, orange cake is always made at this time of year. I will be sharing my mum’s recipe before the orange season is over, but not today.
Inspiration for this cake stems from a few things other than my mum’s lovely orange cake. My husband requested that I specifically make a blood orange cake which he saw in a recipe book we had on our book shelf in December. Blood oranges were not available at that time but I left it in my memory bank to make one as soon as they became in season. Further inspiration has come from the blood orange tree in our garden on our farm in Sydney. My dad planted a blood orange tree in our garden in Australia and it is still there today. Although it didn’t and still doesn’t produce that well I am sure it brought back memories of the blood orange trees in Malta. I can still remember my dad planting it in the garden. Additionally, I had a few extra ingredients from Christmas which are found in most Maltese/Mediterranean kitchens and wanted to use up.
This orange cake recipe which I developed uses blood oranges. Malta produces amazing blood oranges at this time of year and I thought it would be a lovely idea to make my own blood orange cake. Malta produces it’s own variety of blood orange which coincidentally are called Maltese blood oranges. It is one of the sweetest blood oranges varieties. I found it difficult to find blood oranges in South London but luckily we have an Italian Deli in Tooting and they had them. If you can’t find blood oranges then you can also use normal oranges.
The blood orange cake I developed includes the usual suspects of eggs, butter, sugar, baking powder and flour, but I have also added almond meal and ricotta. Sultanas or raisons are optional and blood oranges or any type of oranges are mandatory. It is a nice change and I was really happy with the results. I have never thought myself to be a baker, so I did surprise myself that this cake, which I developed loosely on my mum’s recipe, turned out so well. So, I have decided that this is going to be called Marlene’s Maltese blood orange cake from now on. It is a dense cake but very moist. Just wonderful with some creme fraiche, cream or ice-cream. I also made a topping for the cake of slices of blood orange which had been simmered in a sugar syrup. This also is optional but it does make the cake look that little bit more special.
I went over to a friends house on Sunday in North London who kindly hosted a wonderful lunch. I shared this blood orange cake with all her guests.
- 100 grams butter softened
- 100 grams castor sugar
- 3 eggs lightly beaten (add in a tiny amount of flour to help the mixture not to curdle)
- 3 oranges (zested and juiced)
- 250 grams ricotta
- 250 grams almond meal
- 250 grams self raising flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 100 grams golden sultanas (optional)
- For the topping:
- 75 grams castor sugar
- 100 ml water
- 1 blood orange zested and juiced
- 1 blood orange sliced thinly
- Icing sugar to decorate
- Line a 23 cm round cake tin with baking paper. Grease lightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180oC.
- In a food processor or beater, cream the butter and castor sugar.
- Add in the lightly beaten eggs with a tiny amount of flour and mix further until mixed well.
- Add in the zest of the orange and juice of the blood orange. (Once you zest the oranges, remove the white pith of the oranges and process with a hand blender to produce the juice). Mix well together.
- Gently fold in the ricotta.
- Fold in the mixture the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
- Mix in the sultanas if using.
- Place in the cake tin and bake in the oven for approximately 40 - 45 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking you can prepare the topping.
- In a saucepan add all of the topping ingredients. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes until a thick syrup forms and the sliced blood orange peel is softened.
- Remove the cake from the oven and take out of the cake tin.
- Drizzle the syrup over the cake and place the orange peels in the centre of the cake.
- Dust with icing sugar.