Orange Cake

This cake using sunflower oil and  yoghurt has a really good texture and reminds me of English Madeira cake, which was invented in the mid 19th Century taking its name from the Portuguese Madeira wine with which this cake was often served.

It started out in my hunt to make a cake using lemon balm – (melisa in Polish) which grows abundantly in my garden. Sadly none of the cakes I made captured its taste at all!

However I  adapted this recipe to make an orange cake and the result is delicious.

Short History of Oranges

Oranges originated in Ancient China and sweet oranges are recorded in Chinese literature in very early times.

They are thought to have been brought by Italian and Portuguese traders to the Mediterranean area in the 15th century.

The name is of  Middle Eastern origin:

  • Arabic – nāranj
  • Persian – narang
  • French – l’orange
  • Italian – arancia
  • Portuguese –  laranja
  • Spanish – naranja
  • Polish – pomarańcz
  • Whilst in Dutch it is – sinaasappel – meaning  Chinese apple.

Oranges in Poland were very expensive before World War 2 and my mother would tell me that at St Nicholas and Christmas time an orange or a tangerine would be a common gift.

Christopher Columbus took oranges to the Caribbean on his second voyage in 1493.

Later,  Spanish settlers introduced orange plants to North America,  first to Florida and then to California.

Figures from 2017 show Brazil as being the largest orange producer in the world with the United States of America coming second and  Florida produces 70% of that country’s oranges.

Ingredients

  • 85- 90ml of Greek yoghurt (full fat is best)
  • 2 large oranges – finely grated rind & juice (not all will be needed)
  • 125ml of orange juice
  • 180g of caster sugar
  • 320g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 170ml of sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.
  • Finely grate the rind of the oranges.
  • Squeeze the juice from the oranges (you will not need all of it).
  • Mix the yoghurt with 125ml of the  orange juice.
  • Prepare a 23cm loose bottom or spring  form tin with a cake liner.
  • In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, oil and orange rind.
  • Add the eggs and whisk again.
  • Lightly mix in the flour.
  • Mix in the lemon juice.
  • Mix in the yoghurt and orange juice mixture to give a thick batter.
  • Pour into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes and cover the top lightly if necessary).

Served on Duchess – Bramble Rose – tea-plates from the 1960s.

 

Rhubarb & Date Cake

As I have rhubarb growing in the garden I am always on the lookout for recipes  for  rhubarb cakes and have tried many from English, American & Polish recipe books and magazines.

Some recipes just used 1 or 2 stalks of rhubarb – as I have lots of rhubarb – I wanted a recipe that used more.

I was talking with my old school friend who lives in Leeds and she told me her husband makes a lovely rhubarb cake with the rhubarb they have growing on their allotment.

So, I tried it out and it was indeed lovely!

 

 

Ingredients

  • 340g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 170g  butter
  • 230g caster sugar
  • 450g rhubarb, chopped into small cubes
  • 230g stoned dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml milk (either whole or semi skimmed)
  • Optional – extra sugar to sprinkle on top – (I would not bother with this next time)

 

 

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C
  • Line the base of a 26cm round spring-form or loose bottomed tin with baking paper. (You can use a 23cm tin)
  • Place the chopped rhubarb and dates into a bowl.
  • Place the flour and baking powder into another bowl.
  • Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour using your fingertips until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Stir the chopped rhubarb and dates into the mixture.
  • Combine the eggs and milk in a jug and beat a little.
  • Stir into the cake mix until well combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
  • If using, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar on the top of the cake.
  • Bake for approximately 1 – 1 & 1/4  hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean – best check on it after an hour and cover top if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack until the tin is cool enough to safely handle.
  • Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on the wire rack

Although the cake keeps well, I think it is best eaten when fresh as then the rhubarb taste is strong and the cake delicious.

Crown china tea plates – no pattern named.

Note

The rhubarb season is now over in my garden as it has just past July – next year I am going to try some variations on this cake eg – without the dates or with raisins etc.

Lemon Icing – American Style

I used to work online for an organisation in America and I still correspond by e-mail with one of my old colleagues.

He sent me a recipe for a Lemon Cake which his maternal grandmother, Maude Hodge, used to make, saying that this was his favourite cake and she often made it for his birthday.

My nephew, who is now working in America, loves lemon cake – I made him two types when he was here on a visit over a year ago – see previous posts – Lemon Drizzle and Lemon Cream Roulade.

I am sure he will love this one and if he makes it – the recipe will have crossed the Atlantic and back!

The recipe is for an icing or topping, which is a “cousin” to Lemon Curd and Lemon Meringue Pie filling.

I made two cakes using 4 eggs using a butter sponge as in  – How Did My Sponge Become Sandy? You could also use a fat free sponge. (Use 21 or 22 cm diameter tins)

The original instructions said to cut each cake into two so that you had four layers – my cutting ability is not that good! (Also I liked the thick layer in the middle)

You spread the icing on the layers to sandwich them together and then cover the top and sides.

Ingredients

  • 440g of granulated sugar
  • 250ml of water
  • 3 lemons – juice and finely grated rind
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of butter

Method

  • In a saucepan mix the sugar, egg, cornflour and water together.
  • Add the lemon juice and rind.
  • Cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Place one of the cakes on a serving plate – one with a lip is best.
  • Spread the icing on the cake.
  • Put the other cake on top.
  • Cover the top and sides.

 

  • The cake is on a Walther  Glas crystal cake plate.
  • Served on Aynsley – Las Palmas tea plates,  from the 1960s.
  • Coffee cups & saucers by Colclough,  Ridgway Concord,  from the 1970s.

 

 

Leśny mech – Forest moss

 

A Polish Heritage Day was held in the Leeds Polish Centre on the first Saturday after 3rd May in 2017 & 2018.

The 3rd will take place on Saturday, 4 May 2019.

May 3rd  is Polish Constitution Day – a National Holiday in Poland to celebrate – Konstytucja 3 maja 1791.

This was the first  written constitution in Europe and the second in the World with the American constitution in 1789 being the first. It was very progressive for its time.

There was a hugh table with Polish cakes for sale – I contributed the iced poppy seed cake – makowiec on a glass stand in the middle of the photograph.

One of the ladies brought a cake I had never seen before which she told me was called Leśny mech – which means Forest Moss and it looked amazing as it was bright green!

Others certainly knew this cake and it very quickly disappeared!

I was amazed to find that the cake is made with spinach!

I have tried to find the origins of the cake as it is certainly not one my mother ever mentionned – all that I have found is that it is based on a Turkish cake – called  Ispanakli Kek (Spinach Cake).

Short History of Spinach

Spinacia oleracea is spinach & the plant originated in Persia (modern Iran), ispanakh in Persian &  ispanak in Turkish and szpinak in Polish.

Spinach was found in China by the early years of AD, where it is called Persian vegetable.

There are records of spinach in Spain by the 12th century.

Spinach came to England in the 14th century and was popular because it grew in the spring and helped to break the monotony of the Lenten diet.

Catherine de Medici who was from Florence in the 16th century married into the French royal family. She loved spinach  and the term which is used till this day – à la Florentine, which is used to signify a dish with spinach, was coined in her honour.

Leśny mech

Forest Moss – this cake with its amazing colours is meant to look like the forest floor with red berries growing.

I made this cake with 250g of  baby leaf spinach which gives a light green colour. I have read that if you use full leaf older spinach this gives a darker colour and has more flavour – I have not tried this yet.

I also know that you can use frozen spinach -400g of frozen – squeezed out and patted dry – but I have not tried this.

I used frozen raspberries for the berries – when it is later in the year I will use fresh raspberries or alpine strawberries from the garden or whinberries(bilberries) from the woods. Many people use pomegranate seeds when making this in the winter months.

Ingredients

  • 250g baby leaf spinach
  • 240g of  granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 185 ml sunflower oil (3/4 of  a 250ml cup)
  • 400g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Grease and line the bottom of a loose-bottomed (or spring formed) cake tin – 26cm in diameter.

  • Use a mini-chopper/blender to whizz up the spinach – most likely in batches to get it all done.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder together.
  • Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence into a large bowl and use an electric whisk to whisk them together for 4 to 6 minutes till it is pale and fluffy.
  • Gently stir in the spinach.
  • Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Bake on a lower shelf of the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

  • Lightly shave off any golden brown edges of the cake with a sharp knfe or fine grater.
  • Cut off the top third of the cake and crumble it by hand into a bowl.

Place the bottom piece of the cake onto the serving plate or cake stand.

Optional

A sweet poncz (sweet punch for moistening the cake) can be used on the bottom layer.  You can make one from 60ml of cold weak black tea, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 – 2 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix the ingredients together and use a pastry brush to spread it on the cake.

Now add a white filling!

Some recipes use whipped double cream, sweetened with icing sugar and set with gelatine. Other recipes make a filling with mascarpone.

I used my own yoghurt cheese – you can use cream cheese.

Filling Ingredients

Approximate amounts

  • 500g yoghurt cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence or fine grated rind of a lemon
  • optional – a couple of tablespoons of soured cream – depending on the cheese and how soft you want the filling

Method

Mix the ingredients together – adjusting the sweetness and consistency to taste.

Assembling the cake.

  • Place bottom layer on a plate or cake stand.
  • Brush on the poncz – optional
  • Spread on the white filling
  • Sprinkle the cake crumbs over the top of the cake to cover filling
  • scatter red berries over the top (do this later if not serving straight away)

To decorate – red colours – raspberries, whinberries (bilberries) alpine strawberries, pomegranate seeds

 

Making this cake gave me a chance to use the beautiful Lead Crystal Cake Stand, which was a present from my cousin in Lanchester. It was just right for this large cake.

Made by Nachtmann in Germany  – Tortenplatte (tort/gateau plate/ stand) – style name – Venus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates used are La Prune by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Cotton napkin with a design of rhubarb was bought from the Hepworth Gallery shop in Wakefield (Sadly – No longer in stock – as I wanted to buy some more!).

Placek with Almonds

I stayed in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) in 2018 and I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt which I adapted and this was posted as PlacekDerbyshire Inspired.

This is a variation I tried out using almonds.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter or block margarine
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence
  • 230g self raising flour
  • 50g of ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam
  • 50g of flaked almonds

Method

  • Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Place the flaked on a tray and pop them under the grill for a few minutes to toast them.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and almond essence
  • Mix together the flour, ground almonds and the baking powder.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar .
  • Add the yoghurt, egg and essence mixture and beat well.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.
  • Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.
  • Cover the top with the toasted almonds and quickly put it back in the oven.

 

 

  • Bake for around another 25 – 30 minutes.

 

 

  • Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.
  • Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

Served on teaplates by Wedgwood, Hathaway Rose  – 1959 -1987

 

 

 

Carrot Piernik

Piernik is a spiced honey-cake.

I would describe this cake as a “Pseudo-piernik” as  granulated sugar rather than honey is used.

My Polish friend in Leeds gave me this recipe and she got it from another Polish lady. The written copy could be described as being in “Ponglish” being written partly in English with additional notes in Polish!

The original recipe used cups which except for liquids I find hard to work with and  much prefer weights.

I tried out a few alterations & variations until I reached this final version which I feel is the easiest way to get consistent results.

I made it is two different tins: the longer tin gave a thinner cake which was  better for cutting in two and adding  a filling, the shorter tin gave a thicker cake which was  better with just a topping.

Ingredients

  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 225g coarse grated carrots
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (I use Marks & Spencer’s) or cinnamon

Method

  • Grease and line a 32cm x 22cm or a 27cm x 21cm tin.
  • Pre-heat oven to GM5 – 190°C
  • Mix well together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla essence &  orange rind (I use an electric whisk).
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, spices & salt and lightly mix this into the whisked mixture.
  • Mix in the grated carrots.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Depending on the tin size, bake for 25 – 35 minutes but keep an eye on it and cover with foil or greaseproof if it starts to burn.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

 

Finishing – several ways

  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Drizzle with a melted chocolate & butter mixture
  • Cut into two and sandwich together with powidła – Polish plum jam* or sour cherry jam – then dust with icing and drizzle with chocolate & butter topping
  • Top with orange butter icing

*Powidła is a lovely spread – often translated as jam but  is not really a jam.

It is made from fresh ripe plums which are heated and stirred for hours until the water is driven off and you get a thick paste.  The traditional version does not have any extra sugar added.

I bought some in my local Polish shop, I have seen it for sale in glass jars or in plastic tubs.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 50g of plain chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

  • Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan with some water in it.
  • Heat the water in the pan and stir the mixture to combine it together.
  • Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake.

 

 

Orange Butter Icing

Ingredients

  • 50g of butter
  • 2 tablespoon of orange juice
  • Grated rind of 1/2  a large orange
  • Around 250g of icing sugar

 

 

Method

  • Melt the butter with the juice and rind in a small saucepan.
  • Leave to cool slightly.
  • Mix in the icing sugar to get a thick spreadable icing.

 

 

Royal Albert – Primulette – tea set – from the 1950s

Green teapot – Café Culture by Maxwell Williams

Optional

Add 100g of sultanas to the mixture.

 

20190313_085148

Note

I have posted a previous carrot recipe which I have used to make small buns.

The ingredients are similar but in different proportions – soft dark brown sugar is used which is not usually available in Poland.

Chocolate Orange Babka

This is a new recipe for a babka – it is very moist and tastes delicious.

I serve it just dusted with icing sugar but you could add a thin chocolate glaze.

Ingredients

225g Butter or Block Margarine

225g Caster Sugar

Finely grated zest and the juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of apricot jam

4 eggs

175g self raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

50g of cocoa

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

Grease & flour well a large babka tin, tapping away any excess.

 

 

 

 

Beat well together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs well and gradually add them, beating the mixure after each addition.

Mix  in the vanilla essence, apricot jam, orange zest and juice.

In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa together.

Fold the flour mixture into the beaten mixture.

Spoon the cake mixture into the babka tin and level the top.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until the babka has risen and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then turn this out onto a wire cake rack to cool.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on Crown – fine bone china – England (no pattern name given).