Sicilian Orange Cake
This isn’t the first orange cake* I’ve posted here and it won’t be the last: it’s far too easy to make and eat, and just bright enough when London lives up its wet hype. Even my husband’s apparent (though I dare say untested) dislike for orange cake (he texted me back “boooo” when I told him what kind of cake I’d made) won’t stop me.
Why? Because it’s June and rainy and chilly. The rain in London isn’t like other rain. You can’t predict it. The forecast says it’ll be sunny until 4pm, but you’ve got a 90% chance of getting soaked or stuck under a tree at noon. So I’m not taking any chances.
Also because I’m 7 months pregnant, staying home with my 4-year-old for the first time and thus need reasons not to stay in a near-nap state all day. Because we’ve just moved across the world (again), our things (including my bundt pan) have just arrived, and I decided to try a “local” recipe. Because I always have extra oranges sitting in the bottom of the fridge. Because it’s raining. Because I can’t find chocolate chips. Because I like a good orange cake. Because I can.
So why is this orange cake so special? It’s not. I just have a thing for everyday cakes that sit on the counter and slowly (but not even that slowly, let’s be honest) get sliced away. Or more likely I just have a thing for having cake in the house at all times, especially when going out for cake means getting wet. And not napping.
This recipe was first published online in The Guardian and seems to have quite the internet following. I liberally (inexactly) adjusted the weight-based metric measurements to the US’ volume-based, left out some things and it still came out perfect. I’m guessing it’s not really Sicilian, based on the butter, icing sugar and just the Englishness of it, but I’m not complaining. Sicily might win for sunshine, but the English know a good cake.
SICILIAN ORANGE CAKE
This orange cake has more of a poundcake feel, and takes well to extra orange juice sauce poured on top. Liberally adapted from Rick Stein’s Sicilian Orange Cake recipe. Serves 8 – 10.
250g (1 cup/2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1½ teaspoons grated orange zest (from about 4 oranges)
250g self-raising flour (or 2 1/4 cups flour + 3 teaspoons baking powder)
85ml (1/3 cup) orange juice
Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Thoroughly grease a round cake tin or a bundt pan. I used 1 small bundt pan and 1 really small loaf tin.
Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until very pale. Beat in the eggs and the orange zest. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together, then add this mixture to the batter. Once the flour is incorporated, add the orange juice.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan then gently turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Prepare icing by taking 1 cup (125g) of icing sugar in a bowl and whisking in a tablespoon of orange juice at a time until the mixture is creamy and thin enough to spread. Drip and spoon over the top of the cake, letting it soak in and drip down the sides.
Can be served warm or at room temperature. I served it for dessert with unsweetened double cream and I got lots of praise, even from my skeptical family.
Keeps well for up to 5 days on the counter. If you want it to remain super moist and extra gooey, do what I did: make extra sauce by mixing 1/2 cup orange juice with a few tablespoons of sugar; make holes in the cake’s top with a knife and pour the sauce on top until it all soaks into the cake.