Every year I make marmalade. I love the restful, rhythmic chopping and the smell of it simmering in the pan. I love the look of a pleasing stash of gleaming, amber jars of it on the shelf. I love it on toast.
But let’s be honest, there’s a limit to how much toast a girl can eat in a year. I’m always looking for ways to include it in things as well as on things. I use marmalade to glaze hams, in a sticky glaze for chicken drumsticks, in steamed puddings and in cakes.
For Séan’s birthday, I wanted to make a marmalade cake based on this favourite Nigel Slater recipe for a loaf cake. In honour of the boy’s birthday, I gussied it up with a bit of booze, a thick layer of chocolate ganache and some sparkling, crystallised orange slices so in the end it was rather like a huge, posh Jaffa Cake.
Marmalade and Chocolate Cake
For the crystallised oranges:
1 small orange, thinly sliced and ends discarded
200g caster sugar
1-2 cardamom pods, bashed, optional
For the cake:
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little more for buttering the tin
Finely-grated zest and juice of a large orange
1 tbsp Cointreau, optional
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175g self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
For the syrup:
Juice of 1 large orange
Juice of 1 lemon
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp Cointreau, optional
For the ganache:
200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
Start by making the crystallised oranges the day before you want to make the cake. Put the sugar in a pan with the water and cardamom pods if using and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat, add the orange slices and simmer gently for a couple of hours until the oranges are completely soft and have lost all trace of bitterness. Leave overnight to cool in the syrup. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and pat dry on kitchen paper. Reserve the syrup. It will keep in a jar in the fridge for several weeks. Use it to glaze cakes, poach rhubarb, trickle over Greek yoghurt or to use as a base in cocktails.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Lightly butter a 23cm springform cake tin. Line the bottom and sides with baking parchment and butter the parchment.
In a small bowl, whisk together the marmalade with the juice and finely-grated zest of the orange, and the Cointreau if using.
In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Pour in the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the marmalade mixture. Remove the bowl from the stand and gently but thoroughly fold in the flour and salt with a metal spoon. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Place the orange juice, lemon juice, Cointreau if using and icing sugar into a small pan. Warm over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pierce it all over the top with a skewer. Pour on a little of the syrup, let it soak in and then pour on a little more until you’ve used it all up, making sure the cake is evenly soaked. Cool completely in the tin then remove it carefully from the tin (the syrup will make it a bit fragile). Remove the baking parchment and invert onto a plate.
To make the ganache, break up all of the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Heat the cream in a pan just until bubbles appear around the sides, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for 30 seconds then stir it until the chocolate is completely melted. Spread the chocolate over the cake and top with the orange slices.