Saturday, October 13, 2012

Simple Orange Cake


Fridays mornings are ‘time off’. My four year old is at kinder for three! whole! hours!, and I, in theory, write – but life usually intervenes. Last week I spent the time doing laundry; working my way through a backlog of mail, bills and paperwork; washing the dishes; admiring the crab apple tree just about to bloom; and baking a couple of cakes, muttering all the while.

Kinder fetes, school afternoon teas: when will they learn that modern families rarely bake? A friend of mine told me that her brother-in-law always bought cakes or biccies from the supermarket to give to the school cake stalls. Late at night, he’d unwrap them and carefully arrange them on the plastic plate. Then, labelling laws being what they are even for a community cake stall, he’d painstakingly write out all the ingredients including the food additives thus: ‘flour, sugar, cocoa, vegetable oil, emulsifier 471, preservative 282’. Not the sort of thing I’d be falling over myself to buy, I must say!

Then again, I’ve talked to other parents who recommend particular brands of cookies as having no artificial additives; thus, when copied out on the cake stall label, they appear homemade and perfectly pure. Oh, the illusions we live by.

I haven’t quite come to that; I still bake, if with a sigh. And with the glut of oranges at winter’s end, I made the easiest orange cake recipe I know, Stephanie Alexander’s Afternoon Tea Orange Cake. I need to substitute gluten free flour for the wheat flour; I always add a pinch of salt to my cakes; and I cook it in a loaf pan. Otherwise, I follow her recipe. It’s just the thing for early spring, when the fruit bowl is full of oranges and the view out the window is of blossom.

Simple Orange Cake

- 1 orange
- 2 eggs
- 125g softened unsalted butter
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 225g self raising flour(real or gluten free)
- pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Zest then juice the orange. Place all ingredients into a food processor and whizz until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with a few minuscule crumbs attached.

Let cool for five to ten minutes in the tin, then remove to a cake rack to cool completely - although it is absolutely superb served warm!

Alexander recommends an orange icing, but it’s not something I can be bothered with, myself. If you want the recipe for that, buy the book; it’s the modern Australian kitchen bible.

(Backyard: eggs. Local: oranges. Victoria: butter, salt. Queensland: sugar. General supermarket mystery: GF flour.

The Cook's Companion [2004 Ed.]

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