Caramel orange cake, for Sweet New Zealand
Here’s my simplified riff on Ottolenghi’s stunningly beautiful orange polenta cake. Mine’s probably not vastly tastier, but it is easier – no polenta or almond flour here. You can use pretty much any cake batter you want though, the most exciting bit is the topping. You make the caramel, and this prevents the cake sticking to the bottom of the pan nicely too. Then you lay orange slices over, the batter goes on top, and while it cooks it soaks up the caramel and a bit of the orangey flavour and is wonderful.
Unfortunately I cut and snapped this the day after it was baked, so it looks rather stodgy, but it’s surprisingly moist and fluffy when warmed up a little. I really wish I’d gotten to eat some on the day of baking, because it was surreal-ly soft in comparison, but oh well. Lesson learnt. Make then eat, and preferably don’t leave in a freezing kitchen. It’s a problem with most butter cakes, so I suppose you could try using half oil half butter instead if you’re wanting to guarantee softness the next day.
This cake also represents sweet success after 3 attempts at getting the caramel & cake combos right. It’s not a very interesting story, but the lesson is that you shouldn’t use blond sugar in place of white sugar for making caramel. Also, I’ve given up on polenta cakes. Lastly, when making wet caramel, don’t use a pan that’s too large – you want things to boil rather than sautee if that makes sense.
I was too excited about eating this to bother, but I would strongly recommend something creamy to eat alongside. Ice cream, mascarpone, or a little mild thick yogurt would do wonders. A few other tips with regards to making this:
- If you have a metal oven-friendly saucepan about 8″ wide, use that instead of a cake tin and only line the side with paper or foil. This will mean your cake is unwrinkled on the sides and doesn’t leak caramel.
- If using a springform tin, bake in a roasting dish to catch any caramel that seeps out (which it likely will…not much though).
- If you don’t like the bitterness in oranges at all, then segment your orange pieces to remove all the white bits (but please don’t waste as much of the orange as the lady does in the video!). You’ll be surprised at the amount of bitterness even just from the white bits in between the segments. Keep the segments thin though (you may even want to cut them in half). Use a very sharp knife or you will end up with pulp and juice all over your counter!
Caramel orange cake
makes one 8″ cake
Caramel orange topping
- 1 orange, segmented or peeled and sliced (zest it first for the cake, then proceed to remove the pith)
- 90g white sugar (pref caster)
- 2 Tbs water
- 20g unsalted butter, cubed
Sour cream cake
- 115g unsalted butter, softened*
- 3/4c -1c caster sugar (3/4c results in a mildly sweet cake)
- 2 large eggs, pref at room temp (about 20C)
- 225g sour cream, pref at room temp (or thick greek-style yogurt, or Clearwater’s yogurt. I used half sour cream, half yogurt, but it does work well with all sour cream)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1 1/4 c plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda