Chocolate Orange Cake

Chocolate Orange has always been a bit of a thing in my family. It started with my mum being given a Terry’s chocolate orange every year for Christmas and just expanded into a family favourite. I feel like chocolate orange is also the perfect flavour to experiment with if you’re a new baker, or a student baker, because it’s so cheap and easy to create.

The inspiration for this recipe came from a rainy day on holiday in Scotland. Being Scotland, it had started to rain as soon as we’d arrived at the town we were intending on looking around so we decided, in a very English fashion, to go and hide in a cafe until the rain eased. I ordered a slice of chocolate orange cake, which was very nice (and they weren’t stingy with the slice size either!) and lead to me thinking that maybe I should try and re-create it at home. This is the result!

The recipe for the sponge came from my Grandma’s recipe (aren’t grandmas just the best for baking?!) and I love it because it creates a really good flavoured sponge without being too dry. It’s a great recipe too because it’s a fully hands-on kind of recipe- none of this using an electric mixer nonsense! There’s no orange flavour in the sponge because I didn’t want the orange to be too overpowering, so the orange comes from the curd and icing.

Chocolate Orange Cake

Preparation Time: (sponge) 15 mins, (icing) 5 mins (curd) 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30-35 mins

Ingredients
For the sponge:
175g (7oz) Self-raising Flour
200g (8oz) Caster Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
25g (1oz) Cocoa
100g (4oz) Margarine
2 Eggs
5 tbsp Evaporated Milk
5 tbsp Water
Few drops Vanilla Essence

For the curd:
(this was adapted from a recipe by http://africanbites.com/?p=6021 which is amazing- really clear and easy to understand- even for a beginner like me!)
1/2 cup (4oz) Butter, softened in the microwave
3 Eggs
Juice of 2 Oranges
3 Tablespoons Orange Zest
3/4 -1 Cup of Sugar (depends how much of a sweet tooth you are!)

For the Icing:
2oz Butter
20g Cocoa Powder
A dash of Milk
Icing Sugar (start with 2oz)
Grated zest of 1/2 an Orange (but can change depending how orangey you want it)

Method

For the sponge:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa powder together.
2. Rub the margarine into the dry ingredients using the tips of your fingers until you have a consistently crumb-like mixture.
3. Stir in the eggs, vanilla essence, evaporated milk and water then beat well until combined and smooth.
4. Grease and sprinkle some flour on 2 x 8 inch cake tins (NOT loose-bottom ones). Divide the mixture between them.
5. Bake for 30-35 mins until the sponge springs back.

For the curd:
1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a large, microwave-safe bowl until smooth.
2. Place in the microwave for one-minute intervals, stirring after each interval. After around 4-5 minutes the mixture should have thickened up. It’s done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon without running off into the bowl.
3. Remove from the microwave, cover and cool.

For the icing:
1. Soften the butter slightly in the microwave.
2. Add the other ingredients, then whisk with a hand-mixer until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add icing sugar until it thins out. Keep adding icing sugar until you reach the desired consistency.

Once the sponges have cooled, sandwich together with the curd, then spread the icing over the top and sides.

Handy Hints
Sponge- Don’t worry that the mixture is really runny before it goes in the oven! This is why you shouldn’t use a loose-bottomed tin, as it will run out the bottom.
Curd- Make sure that the butter is softened before you whisk the ingredients as if it isn’t it will result in a lumpy mixture.
Icing- You can add as much icing sugar and orange as you like to suit your preferences. Everyone likes different consistencies and different amounts of zesty-ness!
Decoration- I’ve decorated mine with mini Terry’s chocolate orange pieces.

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