Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Two Cakes - Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake, and Damp Lemon and Almond Cake

It's a while since I did some cake.... So I thought I'd give you another one. I didn't know I was so concerned with cake, nor ate so much of it, but it appears I am and I do!

Just over a year ago, on holiday in Schull in Co. Cork (or "Pirate Schull", as the DinnerBabies call it), we were brought to the marvellous Blairscove House and Restaurant near Durrus in west Cork for dinner. It still lives in the memory, it was absolutely fabulous - glorious setting, excellent food, good company; a really enjoyable night.

Anyhow, the starters and desserts at Blairscove are served buffet style so you can help yourself. The desserts were particularly gorgeous; there was a super tasty little raspberry mousse served in a small kilner style bottle, a jelly of summer fruits that was so delicate, and a spiced Moroccan style orange cake that my brother felt was the star of the show.

I always thought that it should be something I should be able to recreate, as it wasn't a million miles from Nigella Lawson's damp lemon and almond cake that I make regularly, as it is similar in style. So I was quite excited to hear Ray D'Arcy interview the chef Clodagh McKenna on his radio show on TodayFM earlier this summer and waxing lyrical about the spiced Moroccan orange cake she'd brought in!

So, I got googling and I found the recipe, and it is now a firm favourite in the repertoire. Again, like the lemon and almond cake, it is a great dessert (especially as you can keep the leftovers of both cakes to enjoy after the guests have disappeared, wrapped in tinfoil and they actually get nicer over a few days). The orange cake is great for those guests who are less fond of the distinct almond flavour of the lemon cake. I made the orange cake to bring for this year's trip to Schull, with that very idea in mind, that we could have it for dessert across a few days. However, greedy guts that we are, it didn't make it past the first day as the four of us sat down and ate the whole thing in one sitting! No higher praise than empty plates though, so that was good. And I did get a couple of runs in, to offset some of the damage - and as a result of that, I've got back to running slightly more regularly and have now entered some runs as a goal, so all in all it was a good result.

Here's the recipe, it's simple and gorgeous.

(Clodagh McKenna, from her website)

Clodagh says, on her website: "We made this deliciously moist Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake last Saturday in the cookery school – it’s fab served with Greek Yogurt or Creme Fraiche and lasts for 1 week!"

  • 50 g slightly stale white breadcrumbs (about 2 slices of bread, crusts cut off - you don't want dark flecks in your cake!)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
  • Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Whipped cream or Greek yogurt, to serve (optional)
    For the citrus syrup
  • Juice of 1 unwaxed orange
  • Juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

  1. Line the base of a 20.5cm (8in) round and 5cm (2in) deep tin with greaseproof paper, then grease and flour the tin. Mix the breadcrumbs with the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Whisk the oil with the eggs, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the orange and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into the tin, place in a cold oven and turn on the heat to 180C, 350F, Gas 4.
  2. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, make the citrus syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves from the syrup.
  4. While the cake is still warm, pierce it several times with a skewer, then spoon the hot syrup over the cake, allowing it to run into the holes. Leave to cool. Spoon any excess syrup back over the cake every now and then until it is all soaked up. Serve with whipped cream or a dollop of thick Greek yogurt, if wished.

And it now occurs to me, as I try to link to the lemon cake - I haven't posted that recipe here ever! As this is the most common dessert I make these days, I feel I have to remedy this, so here's that recipe too.

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake
(Nigella Lawson, “How to be a Domestic Goddess”, pg. 12)

Nigella says, in the book:- "I love lemon, I love almond, so this for me is cake nirvana. Perhaps it should be in the fruited cakes section, but the citrus element, though intense, just melds with the almonds to give a slab of damp, dense, sharp-toned meltiness. It is a plain cake, but gloriously plain.
If you can, leave this cake wrapped in a double casing of foil for a couple of days before eating it: both its sharpness and its melting dampness will increase in the waiting."

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence
  • Grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 21-23cm Springform cake tin, lined on the bottom
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white. 
  2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the flour after each addition. When all the eggs and flour have been incorporated, gently stir in the ground almonds, then the almond essence, lemon zest and juice. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at for about 1 hour. I say “about” only because ovens seem to vary so violently, I’ve cooked this in one oven when it was finished after 50 minutes; in another when it needed 1 hour and 10 minutes. Whichever, after about 30 minutes you may well find you have to cover it loosely with foil; you don’t want the top of the cake to burn. 
  4. The cake is ready when the top is firm and a skewer, inserted, comes out cleanish: you want dampness, but no battery goo. Take the cake out and let it stand for 5 or so minutes in the tin. Then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave til cool. (NB – loosen with a palate knife before opening the spring)
  5. Then, preferably, wrap well in tin foil and leave it for a couple of days. Push some icing sugar over the cake through a fine sieve or tea strainer (I don’t bother) when serving. I can’t stop myself murmuring “raspberries” to you, either.
Serves 6 – 8

The recipe above is verbatim from the book – here’s my note, the smaller springform tin is better, the one I use is 8½” / 20½cm

With many thanks to Nigella Lawson and Clodagh McKenna!

Sarah xx


  1. Meat Rub
    salt blends

    Sassy Ginger Ribs and Chili Verde Veggie Kabobs :
    Grilling is a favorite summer pastime and right now farmers markets are filled with delicious vegetable to add to the menu. Here’s a paring of Sassy Ginger Ribs and Chili Verde Veggie Kabobs to delight your dinner guests. The ginger sugar melds flawlessly with the ribs to add fresh and zesty flavors, while the applewood smoked sea salt creates a delicious and savory flavor that will leave you craving for seconds. For the veggie kabobs, chili verde sea salt adds a three dimensional flavor and a pinch of spice to your favorite vegetables.
    It’s time to fire up the grill.

    Sassy Ginger Ribs
    3 Pounds country style ribs
    6 Ounces concentrated apple juice
    2 Tablespoons USimplySeason Ginger Sugar
    2 Tablespoons USimplySeason Applewood Smoked Sea Salt
    1/2 Cup water
    1/2 Cup vegetable oil
    Mix all of the ingredients together. Marinate ribs overnight. Grill over indirect heat for 90 minutes. Baste every 15 minutes with an additional 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Smile and enjoy.
    Makes about 6 servings

    Chili Verde Veggie Kabobs
    6 Cups of your favorite in-season veggies (we like zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, and onion)
    1/4 Cup white wine
    3 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
    2 Teaspoons USimplySeason Chili Verde Sea Salt
    Slice vegetables into 2-inch sections, grill over indirect heat for 20 minutes while basting with the mixture of white wine, vegetable oil and USimplySeason Chili Verde Sea Salt. Smile and enjoy.
    Makes about 6 servings

    Contact Us:>
    website: www.usimplyseason.com
    Call: 888-243-7770
    Amboseli Foods
    569 South 600 West #102
    Salt Lake City, UT 84101

  2. He is no scam,i tested him and he delivered a good job,he helped me settle bank loans,he also helped my son upgrade his scores at high school final year which made him graduate successfully and he gave my son free scholarship into the college,all i had to do was to settle the bills for the tools on the job,i used $500 to get a job of over $50000 done all thanks to Walt,he saved me from all my troubles,sharing this is how i can show gratitude in return for all he has done for me and my family

    Gmail; Brillianthackers800@gmail.com
    Whatsapp number; +1(224)2140835