Did you all have a good Easter? I spent most of mine seeing friends and starting a massive spring clean of the house; I say start because it took me four hours just to do the kitchen, after which I got fed up, gave up and took the dog for a walk to enjoy the sunshine (I went out without a coat!) so I’ve still got the rest of the house to do…it may take me a couple of weeks… I didn’t even do an Easter Sunday lunch this year, or eat any Easter chocolate (shocking I know), I did get in a spot of baking however; nothing particularly Easter-y but it does contain chocolate and is rather delicious – this chocolate, olive oil and rosemary cake with candied blood oranges.
It may sound a little strange putting olive oil and rosemary in a cake but it works really well, neither of them are overpowering in any way and just add a subtle hint of flavour that elevate this otherwise simple cake beyond the everyday. It is a classic flavour combination – chocolate and orange, with a little something extra – hints of pepper and fruitiness from the olive oil and herbs from the rosemary which all make for a very aromatic and fragrant cake which is at once familiar and comforting and yet a little bit interesting and different from the norm.
The olive oil lends the cake a very soft, crumbly crumb; it is a moist cake (helped in part by the dousing of orange rosemary syrup), but will become dry if overbaked so make sure that you take it out of the oven when a skewer comes out with moist crumbs on it but no wet batter, don’t leave it in until the skewer comes out completely clean or it will be overdone. The cake works perfectly with the candied blood oranges, which are not only delicious, but visually striking and dress up what is otherwise a plain cake; if you want to dress it up even more then I think that a layer of dark chocolate ganache under the oranges would work perfectly and I would probably try adding a spoonful of olive oil to it to carry the flavour through. The syrup leftover from making the oranges is infused with orange and rosemary so brushing the cake generously with it is the perfect way of adding extra flavour and moisture, and should you happen to have any left, I highly recommend trying some in a gin and tonic… If blood oranges are out of season then you can use regular, thin-skinned oranges instead, they wont look as striking but will still taste good.
I was sent some Bioglan Superfoods cacao powder, Supergreens cacao boost and Raw cacao and quinoa bites to review; I used the cacao powder in this cake, it can be used just like cocoa powder but it is far higher in antioxidants and nutrients while giving the same chocolatey flavour – win, win! I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of the supergreens powder, it is a mix of cacao and a load of healthy ingredients, apparently one serving is equivalent to 14 portions of fruit and veg; sounds good but I added a spoonful to a smoothie and it lent it a slightly bitter taste and I felt sick afterwards…not good, maybe it takes a bit of getting used to…. The raw cacao and quinoa bites were quite nice and more-ish but didn’t fill me up or satisfy my chocolate craving, maybe I am beyond help! This cake made with the cacao powder was absolutely delicious and definitely did the trick though!
- 400ml (1 + ⅔ cup) water
- 300g (1 + ½ cups) caster sugar
- 3 blood oranges, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 large eggs
- 130g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
- 130g (2/3 cup + 1tbsp) light brown soft sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g (1 + ¾ + ⅓ cup) plain flour
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- 75g (1/2 cup + 2tbsp) cacao or cocoa powder
- 200ml (1/2 + ⅓ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 70ml (1/4 cup + 1tbsp) full fat milk
- 1 tbsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ tsp salt
- Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the orange slices and rosemary and bring up to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, turning the orange slices every now and again to make sure that they are evenly submerged. When they are ready the peel should be tender and translucent. Carefully remove the orange slices from the syrup and lay them on a sheet of baking parchment, set aside and reserve the syrup.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and grease a deep, 23cm round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugars until thick and pale then whisk in the vanilla extract. Mix together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder then sift it into the egg mixture.
- Begin to fold in the flour until the mixture starts to look gungy then add the olive oil, milk, rosemary and salt. Continue to fold everything together until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs but no wet batter; if it comes out clean then the cake is overdone.
- Poke a few holes in the top of the cake with a skewer then brush very generously with some of the reserved syrup (at least 4tbsp worth); leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. You can give the cake another brushing of syrup if you like.
- Once the cake is cool, transfer it to a serving platter and arrange the orange slices on top, drizzle with a little more syrup and serve.
I am sharing this with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Bake Of The Week hosted by Casa Costello and Maison Cupcake, Fiesta Friday hosted by Simply Vegetarian 777 and Ten Times Tea, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Friday Features