As a child I couldn’t fathom why people, given a choice, would bake anything other than a chocolate mud cake. To me, it was the epitome of delicious and all else seemed like a massive waste of time and energy. As I grew older (and a little wiser) I soon began to discover the delights of an assortment of equally exquisite cake offerings, orange and almond cake, lemon yoghurt cake laced with blueberries, banana bread, lime chiffon cake, raspberry crumb cake, strawberry sponge and the list goes on and on. In fact, I now find it difficult to return to my beloved childhood favourite the chocolate mud cake, for what once seemed to be the ultimate in baking pleasure now seems too heavy, sickly rich and to be honest a little over the top. Nowadays, I much prefer the light zesty freshness offered up by lemon, lime or orange cake, I now relish in the slight tang of yoghurt cakes and very much celebrate the simplicity of a wonderful sponge with simple whipped cream and fresh berries. Times are indeed a changin’ and I couldn’t be happier.
My latest unearthing in the realm of zesty citrus spiked cakes is this scrumptious orange and poppy seed creation with Grand Marnier syrup. This cake is a wonderful morning or afternoon ‘everyday’ kind of treat as it’s simple yet full of flavor. What I love about this cake batter is that it is constructed as easily as adding wet ingredients to dry, no food processor, beaters or kitchen aid in sight! So it can be whipped up in no time. The mouth-watering flavour of this cake is provided through the wonderful blend of melted butter, marmalade, orange zest and juice and a big slosh of Grand Marnier. The baked product smells of fresh intense orange and has a tender, melt in your mouth crumb.
The cake is further moistened by the Grand Marnier syrup, whilst baking in the oven I prepared a syrup of water, sugar, orange zest and juice and a big shot of the liquor; which I allowed to bubble down forming a thick and luscious syrup that was finally drizzled over the baked cake. The syrup not only added a gorgeous amount of moisture to the cake but somehow heightened the already amazingly intense orange flavour.
Orange Poppy Seed Cake with Grand Marnier Syrup
1 ½ cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
¼ cup poppy seeds
185g unsalted butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
¼ cup orange marmalade
Grated zest of 2 oranges
1/3 cup orange juice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Grand Marnier Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a deep 20cm round cake tin and line with paper.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the almond meal and poppy seeds. Make a well in the centre.
Place the butter, sugar, marmalade, orange zest and juice in a sauce pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture is smooth and the butter has melted. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Add the egg and whisk. Pour mixture into the tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
To make the syrup, place the sugar, water, Grand Marnier and orange juice in a small saucepan and place over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the syrup to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the syrup has thickened.
Using a skewer make small holes over the top of the cake, slowly drizzle ½ cup syrup over the slightly cooled cake allowing the syrup to soak through. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with mascarpone or whipped cream and extra syrup. Serves 8.