In continued attempts to use up our stash of baking chocolate and cocoa powder (of which we appear to have more than our sensible share), we came up with this recipe. It’s a pretty classic combination of chocolate and orange, lightly spiced and very subtly heated by ginger and cayenne. The cake is slightly adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe Buttermilk Cake (found in the ever reliable Dessert Bible). As you can imagine, real buttermilk isn’t the easiest thing to find in our side of the world. Whenever a recipe calls for it, we have to make do with buttermilk substitute, which, we are told, is hardly the same thing. Still, combining the milk, orange juice and zest give the cake a bright, lovely orange flavor, which plays well against the richness of the chocolate crumb. The cakes were lovely straight out of the oven but were even better the day after, as the chocolate became slightly fudgier and more fragrant.
We hope you’re not chocolate-d out yet.
For the orange topping:
2 large oranges, washed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp frech ginger, thinly sliced or slivered
2 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
For the cake:
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice, with zest or ground peel
Make the candied orange and ginger topping. In a sauce pan or skillet, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the orange and ginger slices. Cook over medium heat. Stir and turn occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices have turned translucent. Reduce to a low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens and the slices are tender but still intact. Transfer the orange slices to a rack or lined tray to cool. Reserve the syrup for glazing.
Make the cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and line 2 8×4-inch loaf pans.
In one bowl, combine and sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
Combine milk and orange juice. Stir well. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add both sugars. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla and orange extracts. Beat for another 10 seconds.
Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.
Assemble your and bake. Pour cake batter on top of orange topping. Divide evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 30-35 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cakes should spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the cake pans for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and cool on the rack. Take any reserved orange syrup and glaze the
tops and sides.