How does one get into baking?
I can’t quite explain how the inspiration for baking comes about – baking is essentially combining ingredients together to form something else quite different from what you started out with. So it involves imagination and perhaps some creativity.
Which is funny, because I don’t consider myself a very creative person, ornot even a good baker/cook.
But that doesn’t stop the inspiration from hitting me at times. It’s weird.
So the scenario goes – I would be in the middle of munching something, my tastebuds would get working, my mind would decide if I like it or not, and then decides yes, this is pretty good…
And then *BAM*!
A million thoughts run through my head…
Wow great combi! What if I turn this into a cake? OR… What if I combine it with x or y? How would that taste? Ooohh that could work!
Then a few things happen…
The heart starts pumping under the excitement of what could be conjured up.
The fingers get itchy.
The mind races as I get on the Internet to Google the key ingredients and recipe ideas.
The feet get going to the supermarket and eventually to the kitchen….
Moral of the story? If you want to get me baking or could bear to try 1 of my baking creations, FEED ME!
Anyway, onto the main point, that Dark Chocolate Orange Cake!
It happened we were having a meal in church and someone brought Chocolate Orange Ice Cream for dessert.
I felt curious upon seeing that combination. I always thought chocolate went with berries, but orange?
But surprise surprise, I went through the whole mind-explosion thing. It could have been the tang of the orange that cut through the bittersweet chocolate, the fresh citrus edge of the orange with the creamy chocolate… whatever it was, I was sold.
Like the ice cream, I wanted a predominantly chocolate cake that had orange infused in it. So I found this recipe that seemingly fit the bill and got down to work…
Behold, the results of a 2hr experiment at the ‘lab’….
And the conclusive test result?
Now, few things I like about this recipe.
The recipe involved boiling an orange, blitzing it and adding the orange puree into the chocolate cake batter and yes, that achieved the result of a chocolatey cake with that hint of orange – yay!
Adding the pureed orange made the cake moist on the inside – double yay!
I was worried that the chocolate ganache would make it overpoweringly chocolatey but that wasn’t the case – the orange taste was not lost and using the best baking chocolate ensured that it still satisfied lovers of chocolate. Yay yay yay!
I’ve made the cake 4 times now and someone has requested for the recipe (thus the reason for writing this post!), so here are some other things I’ve learned along the way…
If you’re baking this cake for a large group and want to double the portions, do NOT put them all in 1 big baking tin but separate them out into 2 baking tins. I thought I was being smart by combining the double portion into 1 baking tin and the result? The cake turned out really dense and heavy. Keep the proportions and you’ll be guaranteed a moist and fluffy cake.
The only setback of this recipe is that it didn’t rise enough1 (as you can see from the above picture 😦 ). Maybe I should add more baking powder? Any tips from anyone on how to make the cake rise better without affecting the taste?
Perhaps use finely chopped/processed nuts (maybe walnuts) instead of candied orange for the cake decoration2. As directed in the recipe, I bought a pack of candied orange to decorate the cake. Turns out that I’m not a fan of candied orange – too artificially sweet! I reckon using nuts would taste much better and give you that natural crunch!
How soon you add the boiled orange puree into the batter affects the level of moisture in the cake3; if you add the puree while it is still warm, you will get a more moist cake. If you add the puree after it has cooled down, you will get a drier cake. It’s all up to you!
The chocolate ganache does take awhile to cool down4 so if you’re decorating with flakes of white chocolate, you should do it later or else, the white chocolate will melt into the ganache. But if you are doing away with the white choc flakes and like your ganache warm and gooey (like I do), feel free to pour unto the cake straightaway and eat almost immediately!
Okay enough yapping. Here’s the recipe!
Dark Chocolate Orange Cake – Adapted from BBCgoodfood.com
- 1 orange
- 100g baking dark chocolate (feel free to mix dark choc & 70% cocoa)
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 200ml sunflower oil + some oil for greasing the baking tin
- 2 tsps cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder1 (see comment above)
- chopped white choc/nuts/candied orange for decoration2 (see comment above)
- 100g baking dark chocolate
- 100ml thickened cream
Pierce the orange with a small knife (right through). Cook in boiling water for 30 minutes until soft. Whizz the whole orange in a food processor until smooth; let cool3 (see comment above).
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of a 22cm round cake tin.
Melt the baking chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave for 2 minutes on High, stirring after 1 minute. Let cool.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugar and oil. Gradually beat in the puréed orange, discarding any pips, then stir in the cooled melted chocolate. Sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Mix well and pour into the tin.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle. (Check after 45 minutes and cover with foil if it is browning too much.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake is baking, make your ganache. Melt the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Add the cream to the melted chocolate. Set aside until firm enough to spread over the cake – up to 1½ hours4 (see comment above)
And there you have it – the story behind my baking inspirations and the Dark Chocolate Orange Cake, enjoy!