Ah, the food blogger. By nature a generous person. One who makes plateful of food after plateful of food, shares their experiences with other food bloggers and sometimes even ventures away from the kitchen or computer to meet other bloggers.
I haven’t actually yet met another food blogger in the flesh (that I know about) but I have had the pleasure of doing the odd food parcel swap (reaching as far away as Australia and Singapore) which is always great fun and most recently a cake swap with the wondrous Kathryn over at Kathryn Cooks with Jamie. If you haven’t already checked out her blog, you should. Sure, people cooking their way through other peoples cookbooks are ten a penny, but this one is really different. She is attacking Jamie Olivers latest book with a real passion and is working her way through it with such a determination, despite having toothache AND students to deal with, and I just know that she will reach the end!
If you enjoyed Julie/Julia Project, then you will enjoy Kathryns blog which is intelligently written and features great photos, but with a very British slant (because, after all, we are British).
Anyway, Kathryn and I decided to do a cake swap but I changed my mind and wanted to make bread for reasons mentioned in the previous post (lack of butter etc) so I made the Olivetta Loaf. I received Kathryns offering on Tuesday, which was a delicious Chocolate Loaf Cake. My husband loves Loaf Cakes as they remind him of his childhood so he dove straight into Kathryns cake, polishing off two slices with nary a grumble nor a groan. He marvelled at the deep chocolate flavour and how well it worked with Ben and Jerrys Fossil Fuel Ice Cream. Me, I think that ice cream on cake is a bit of a cardinal sin but then I come from the country of custard and whipped cream. I hope that Kathryn posts the recipe for this delicious cake, which comes from a Norwegian recipe, so I can replicate it at home.
Paul doesn’t usually like my cakes too much which is why don’t I make them very often. He tells me that he’s “not a cake person” as he tucks into cream horns and filled donuts. I tricked him last night though.
I relented and baked a cake that has been eyeing me up for quite a while, whispering to me “Bake Me, Bake Me, Bake ME!” It is featured on the cover of this months BBC Good Food Magazine (one of Britains only decent food magazines, why can’t we have such great publications as Saveur over here?): A Marmalade and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake.
For once I had everything in the cupboard required. Well, a variation of everything.
The original recipe featured a marmalade flavoured loaf tin, spiked with toasted poppy seeds and sharpened up with some natural yogurt, glazed with melted marmalade. Ok. So this sounds like a good way to use up my bag of Seville Oranges. They are only in season for a short while and I had to have them.
I try to take advantage of seasonal produce when I can and I have been waiting 10 months for the Seville Oranges to triumphantly re-enter the supermarkets. Actually, it wasn’t very triumphant at all. They were just in a big dumpster, next to all the other oranges, with a big note on them “For Cooking Purposes Only” which is enough to put anybody off them. I took a Seville Orange into work for my orange eating colleagues to try (we are a cloistered lot around these parts) and most of them could only just manage one segment each. I am not an orange eater but I tried a tiny bit and found it left me with a tingly tongue for the rest of the day. I guess there was something in the “For Cooking Purposes Only” sign.
So, our main course in the oven (lemon potatoes with cod, delicious the first time I had it, but the this time I stuck to the original recipe, used two lemons instead of one and found it much too tart – still, I am a supertaster and find sour things a bit hard to take sometimes), I set to work on the cake.
This is possibly the easiest cake in the world and lends itself to many variations. The marmalade is melted in a pan then beaten with the yogurt (I used Buttermilk though, I am not a yogurt eater, see above). The rest of the ingredients, which includes flour, butter, eggs, orange zest, poppy seeds and sugar are all beaten in a large bowl with an electric whisk. Then the yogurt/marmalade mixture is beaten in. To ring the changes, I sprinkled a small punnet of blueberries on the top. Well, I know that oranges and blueberries have a natural affinity, a kind of cold weather fruit meets warm weather fruit affinity.
The whole thing is then slung in the oven (I use the term ‘slung’ to indicate the laissez-faire attitude towards this simple cake) and baked for about an hour.
You must leave it to cool because it is a very moist, tender cake that is quite delicate when hot but becomes emboldened when cold(ened) and is find to cut into huge slices. So, to recap, the changes I made were this: no marmalade glaze, I used Plain Flour instead of Self-Raising (I don’t use SR Flour), I didn’t toast the Poppy Seeds, I used Buttermilk instead of Yogurt and added the Piece de Resistance: the speckled blueberry topping (which actually stains the cake blue top and bottom because some of the sink during the cooking process).
Because I feel that I have turned this recipe around and made it my sort of own, here then is my variation. If you want to make the original, I suggest you buy the March Issue of Good Food Magazine!
MARMALADE AND BLUEBERRY LOAF CAKE
3 Tablespoons Marmalade (for those of you who can’t get Marmalade, you could use the juice of 3 or 4 oranges, preferably
Seville for that sharp taste, boiled rapidly until thickened)
Juice of a Seville (or other) Orange
150g Buttermilk or Natural Yogurt
175g Unsalted Butter, softened
175g Unrefined Caster Sugar (or just regular if you can’t get unrefined)
200g Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
Zest of One Orange (taken from one of those that you used above)
2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds
Small Punnet Blueberries (about 250g), optional.
Preheat the oven to 160c.
In a small saucepan gently heat the marmalade with the juice of the orange until it liquifies. Remove from the heat and beat in the buttermilk or yogurt. If you are using fresh orange juice instead of marmalade, let it boil rapidly for a minute or two to thicken and reduce it, then beat in the yogurt/buttermilk. Leave to cool.
Using an electric whisk, beat together all the other ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. This should just take a minute or two. Quickly beat in the orange/buttermilk mixture.
Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin.
Sprinkle over the blueberries if using.
Bake for about an hour or until a skewer comes out fairly clean (this is a moist cake so it won’t be as clean as say, a chocolate cake).
Leave to cool for 10 minutes, gently remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Enjoy as it is or with cream, custard or, as my husband predictably suggests, ice cream!