Orange Chocolate Loaf Cake

It’s just been my school holidays so I’ve had the chance to do a lot of baking at the moment. I’ve made all sorts of delicious, sweet treats. Peanut butter Chocolate biscuits, Rock Drops, Caribbean Coconut Cake, and this recipe right here – Orange Chocolate Loaf Cake, which I very much enjoyed. This recipe hails from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook – “Kitchen, it’s sort of a cookbook with all the best recipes from her other cookbooks, so if you own all her others I would recommend that you don’t bother with it, but if you’re new to Nigella, or want to grab a cookbook to try out some of her recipes then I would definitely recommend it to you. It’s packed with all sorts of lovely recipes. Her Coffee and Walnut cake looks gorgeous.

Back to the recipe – After baking the loaf cake I found it to be everything Nigella said it should be in her description. Rich, gungy and light. The kind of cake that you could easily take a bite of between meals. It is also inordinately simple to make, something which is typical of most of Nigella’s recipes. The oranges in it also give a nice, nearly bitter depth of citrus to the cake yet they don’t seem to overshadow the cocoa flavor, despite the small quantity of it stipulated in the recipe. It’s a sort of smoky, deep, spicy resonant flavor that lingers in the background. This making the cake that bit more special. A very suitable recipe for beginner bakers or for people with little time on their hands. Give it a try on your next weekend! You won’t regret it.

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake
Serving suggestion –
Pair with a large glass of Drambuie liqueur which would nicely compliment the spicy notes of orange in this cake. Lightly whipped cream would also work nicely; or maybe some marmalade, although I don’t think it needs it.

Recipe – Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake
(From the cookbook – “Kitchen”  by Nigella Lawson).

Ingredients –
150g of soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
Dab of flavourless vegetable oil, for greasing syrup spoon
2 tbsp of golden syrup
175g of muscovado sugar (dark cane sugar)
150g of plain flour
½ tsp of baking soda
25g of your best quality cocoa powder, sifted
2 eggs, pref. at room temp. and free-range
Zest of 2 oranges and the juice of 1

Method –
Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius / 340 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, or line with baking parchment.
Beat the soft butter with the golden syrup – if you dab a little oil onto your measuring spoon with a bit of paper towel then the syrup shouldn’t stick to the spoon, or submerge into very hot water which also works very well – and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth, light coffee cream, though you’ll find that the sugar will always retain a bit of grittiness about it.

Mix the flour, baking soda and cocoa together in a bowl, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tbsp of these dry ingredients before beating in an egg. Add another couple spoonfuls of dry ingredients and add the second egg, beating well.

Carry on beating in the rest of the dry ingredients and the put, still beating, the orange zest and gradually, the juice. At this stage, the batter may look suddenly look dimpled, as if slightly curdled. No need to panic!

Pour and scrape into your loaf tin and bake it for ¾ of an hour, though check 5 mins before and be prepared to keep it in an extra 5 as well. A cake tester will not come out entirely clean, the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner gunge, but not brownie type gunge. Leave to cool a little in its tin on a wire rack then carefully turn out and leave to cool down.

Make ahead note – The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and store in an airtight container. Will keep for 5 days total.

Freeze note –
The cake can be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm and in a layer of foil for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.

My Mum’s Orzo Salad

Hello there! New post this week on orzo salad, my Mum’s orzo salad actually – as the title suggests. This salad is simple and easy to make and is fantastic to take along to a friend’s party, an office lunch, a really posh schools shared lunch day, or you could have it be the salad you have to bring for your family’s Xmas dinner. The possibilities are limitless. It would also be very suitable for a picnic as well. It doesn’t matter whether it’s served warm or cold as it is lovely both ways.

My family make this quite a lot. It’s a very reliable recipe and there is little you need to do in the way of fixing seasonings, the dressing, etc which is great. Making the salad seasonal and using vegetables you have on hand is effortless with this recipe as well. Instead of pumpkin you could roast butternut squash for example. Maybe you could use courgettes instead of capsicums, or you could add more vegetables. Make it your own anyway. Go wild!

Mum's Orzo Salad

Recipe – My Mum’s Orzo Salad

Ingredients –
500g of pumpkin, cut into cubes
1 red onion and 2 red capsicums cut into wedges
1 tsp of crushed garlic
1 tsp of oregano
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of orzo pasta
150g of cubed feta
Small handful of basil leaves
Dressing –
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 tsp of lemon pepper, or normal pepper and a good spritz of lemon juice
1 tsp of honey

Method –

Mix the vegetables with the garlic, oregano and oil in a roasting tray and roast at 180 degrees Celsius, 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 3/4 of an hour, or until soft and cooked.

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

Cook the pasta and combine with the vegetables and dressing.

Arrange attractively and scatter basil leaves and cubed feta on top.

Serve at room temperature, but just as delicious the next day cold.


Rock Drops!

Hi there everyone! I hope you’ve been having a brilliant week since my last post and have been jumping up and down in excitement for my next one. This week I’m covering rock drops. These make for a lovely and delightfully simple bit of baking. They’re also quick to make and are easy enough that you can make them with small children in tow. They are also something that you might not have heard of before. Think scones but crumbly like biscuits and moist like cake. I can’t really think of a better way to describe them to be honest. They’re really nice though and are more than ideal for trick or treat day in the office when it’s your turn to bring in something yummy or maybe for a picnic or an afternoon snack. Whatever time or place takes your fancy.

Note – The last time I made these I was halfway through making them before I realised that I hadn’t any demerara sugar on hand and had to use brown sugar instead. They turned out fine. If you don’t have any demerara in your pantry then just use what you do have.

Recipe – Rock Drops

Ingredients –
100g of butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
200g of plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
75g of demerara sugar (brown sugar will work as well)
100g of sultanas, or other dried fruit
30g of finely sliced glace cherries
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp of milk

Method –
Pre-heat your oven to 200C or 392F. Lightly grease a baking tray with a little butter.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with you fingertips until the mixture becomes crumbly and fine. Stir in the sugar (just use your hands), sultanas or other fruit and the cherries. Also mix in the beaten egg and milk and bring together to form a soft dough.
Spoon nine rough balls of the mixture onto your tray and flatten them a bit with your palm. Maybe also roughen them up a little as well. Remember to allow room between them for expansion while cooking.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins, or until firm to the touch, like with scones. But softer. Remove from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack or serve piping hot, accompanied with an ample amount of soft butter and perhaps jam, but they’re so delicious that they don’t need anything anyway. Enjoy.
Recipe from the about sean’s food blog and sourced from the Cakes & Bakes cookery book. Published by the Love Food Company.

Easy Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake

Every baker worth their salt has got a great chocolate cake recipe that everyone loves… Here’s my one. – Simply called “Easy Chocolate Cake”, it is, as the title suggests delightfully easy to make and it always turns out well. I would even go so far as to say that this is a recipe that’s near impossible to cock up. Perfect for making with small children or for beginner bakers.
To attest to the fact of how easy it is to make I should tell you about the time I made it with my Nana. First off, It was supposed to go into the base of a dessert so it wasn’t exceptionally important, but anyway, I accidently put in 1 1/3 cups of water instead of 2/3 of a cup; after I realised that the cake was far too runny and that I’d made a mistake; and also after being shouted at by my Nana we still put it in the oven. After about an hour and a half it was cooked. Rather nicely actually. It was just a little paler than normal. I wouldn’t really say it was a success but I certainly wouldn’t call it a failure.
My Nana was still angry at me afterwards though.
I should say that I still can’t be entirely sure of how well it tasted as I never got to try it. My Nana refused to let me have even a tiny bite, even though it was going to be squished up into a dessert and even though I was burning with curiosity. She said that if I was so interested in its taste then I should make it again that way myself… I have still yet to try it out. I also still disagree with her about not letting me try it too. It wasn’t like it was going to be sold at a fete or something. After expressing that to my Nana, more shouting followed.
If you’re a keen experimenter in the kitchen then why don’t you try adding more water and tell me how it went. I would be very interested to hear the results. If you’re not though then I strongly advise you to read a recipe more than once.
Anyway – This cake is chocolatey, rich, moist, yummy and light, and is most importantly near impossible to cock up! Why don’t you try it out at your next birthday party, coffee group meeting or neighbourhood watch evening. I’m sure that everyone will enjoy it.

Notes –

I have also included my recipe for butter icing below but any icing would work well with this recipe.
For decoration I simply advise stirring up the icing into swirls with a fork which always looks attractive. You could also get some of those little flowers you find in baking shops. They’d look very cute on top. Or just make it your own.

But definitely give it a go. You won’t be dissapointed.

Credit – Thank you Aunty Tracy for the great recipe, 😉


Recipe – Easy Cocolate Cake – Serves 8-10 people

Chocolate cake

Ingredients –
1 1/3 cups of plain flour
1 1/2 tsps of baking powder
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
125g of butter
1 tsp of vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups of caster sugar
2 eggs, pref. free-range and at room temp.
2/3 of a cup of water

Method –
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line a cake tin and sift the flour and cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat for a further 3 mins or until the mixture is smooth and paler. Pour the mix into your cake tin and shake it a little so everything is evenly dispersed. Bake in oven for about 15 mins, check it, cover the top with a sheet of baking paper and continue to check on it with a skewer every 3-5 mins until an inserted skewer comes out clean and light prod causes it to spring back lightly. Leave to stand in tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Use below icing to decorate when stone cold and serve.

Chocolate Butter Icing –
This icing recipe is a rough guide and will require you to play around with it a bit to make it perfect. Feel free to use your own recipe if you’d prefer and don’t feel afraid to use the optional kahlua to spike it.

Ingredients –
6 or 7 heaped dessert spoons of sifted icing sugar
2 heaped dessert spoons of sifted cocoa
Large knob of softened butter
dribble of vanilla essence or to taste (this should not be necessary if using kahlua)
Kahlua to flavour and loosen (optional), or a bit of water

Method –
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and slowly mix with an electric mixer. When combined continue to beat until very smooth and a little paler. Taste. Add more cocoa or sugar or kahlua or butter and mix again. Continue to taste until it’s good and if you haven’t enough for the cake then make more.