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A slice of country comfort
WITH LAUREN MCDERMOTT
Seasonal foods can be such a joy, especially through summer, autumn and even into the start of winter. By this point in the year however, my inspiration is starting to dwindle a little.
That’s why, when January finally arrives, I’m always so excited to see the shelves filling up with citrus fruits, particularly Sicilian blood oranges, which are reaching their very best at this time of year. Apparently, it’s the cooler evening temperatures combined with sunny Sicilian days that give the fruit its vibrant orange colour, dappled with blush streaks. A much-needed injection of sunshine and vitamin C in midwinter.
We’ve been enjoying these zesty delights with yogurt for breakfast and filling our dark January evenings making orange marmalade and orange curd (the most delicious treat spread across a warm croissant!).
This weekend we baked an easy Blush Orange Layer Cake, which was simple enough to do, but absolutely delicious and still moist a few days later.
200g softened butter
200g self-raising flour
200g golden caster sugar
4 medium free-range eggs
Teaspoon of baking powder
2 unwaxed blood oranges
For the Drizzle & Filling:
100g icing sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
250g orange curd
Preheat oven to 180C /fan 160C/Gas 4
Grease and line 2 standard baking tins (or 3 small, as we did) with baking parchment.
Combine softened butter with golden caster sugar in a mixer.
Add 4 eggs little by little and continue mixing.
Add the zest of both oranges, reserving the flesh for later.
Beat with an electric whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine the self-raising flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and sift into the wet mixture.
Whisk into a smooth, thick batter.
Evenly distribute into lined cake tins.
Bake for 20-25 mins until cooked and golden, then allow to cool on a wire rack.
While your orange sponge cakes are cooling, combine the juice of the two oranges you zested earlier with icing sugar to form a drizzle.
Whip the mascarpone until smooth and firm.
Once cool, you may like to remove the peaks from your cakes to create 2 (or 3) even layers. I find using a wire cake leveller the easiest way to do this, but you can also just use a knife.
Coat the cut pieces with your orange drizzle, then layer with whipped mascarpone and orange curd and sandwich together.
For the top layer, we mixed a little orange curd with mascarpone and smoothed over the top before decorating with slices of dried clementine and a sprig of fresh bay.
Cut through the layers and enjoy a moist, sweet and refreshing slice of sunshine. Perfect with a cup of hot tea on a cold February day.
posted on 21 Feb 2022