It’s mid-August and the count down to Spring has begun. Before we bid farewell to winter, I simply have to share the recipe for this semolina cake. It epitomises the essence of local winter fruits with bright citrus flavours. The taste of pure orange lingers long after the last delectable mouthful. For this Middle Eastern inspired cake I use the whole orange – skin, flesh, the whole shebang. All the essential oils of an orange lies in the skin and it’s this intensity that we’re after. You only need to peel an orange for the aroma to fill the air. Like nature’s perfume neatly packaged in an orange globe.
Although I love a traditional frosted cake, I often prefer unadorned fruit cakes, plain and simple. I’m particularly fond of Middle Eastern bakes. They’re heavier than sponge cakes and most often contain semolina and ground nuts. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these components that make this orange cake so special. That and the rosemary infused soaking syrup. Combining fruit and herbs makes perfect food sense, creating layers of complex flavours. This sticky herbal reduction seeps into the crumb making it one of my favourite seasonal bakes.
One could easily expect the taste to be on the bitter side, but boiling the oranges whole in several changes of water removes all trace of bitterness. What’s left behind is softly poached orange flesh. A quick blitz in the food processor creates a smooth puree that incorporates evenly into the cake batter. I’ve used cake flour, almond flour and semolina in this recipe, all of which boost the taste and texture. Semolina flour is slightly more granular than cake flour but well suited to denser cakes such as this. Most syrup-soaked cakes keep well and taste even better the day after. It’s heavenly served with some softly whipped cream and lemon curd on the side. Orange season is coming to an end so I’d make this delectable cake sooner rather than later.
For more delicious fruited cake recipes that don’t require a baker’s badge, this blueberry tea loaf is superb. Simple, honest and incredibly good.