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To mark the very first entry in Read it and Eat, I’m sharing a brand new recipe, freshly minted today!

As you will discover, I’m particularly fond of cake, if executed well, and with the exception of a feather-light fat free sponge, this usually means rich, moist and decadent.

The story of Chocolate Orange Cake begins in the relatively recent past. I pitched up at an all-day meeting where, for reasons I can’t possibly divulge, all participants – most of whom were former Army officers – were required to pass themselves off as Liberal Democrat Councillors. This is quite another story. Anyway, one member of the meeting decided to lighten proceedings considerably by bringing with her a deceptively plain-looking clementine cake. Well. One bite and I was hooked! I kid you not. Moist, rich, zesty, robust, sticky-on-top, flourless and divine. I had three slices – or at least that’s what I’m admitting to.

Using a mixture of coercion, persuasion and begging, I extracted the recipe from my friend. To my intense delight, it was both pure and easy. This means very few ingredients which in turn means adaptability. Since then, I’ve made the cake several times, experimenting with different oven temperatures and cooking time in order to get the perfect result.

So, today was the first time I tampered with actual ingredients, but oh, what tampering it was. The simple addition of highest quality, molten chocolate together with pure cocoa resulted in a related – but quite different – creature; rather like a second cousin once removed. In due course I shall share the original recipe for Clementine Cake although your powers of deduction should bring it to you anyway. In the mean time, here’s the Chocolate Orange version. The name is, strictly speaking, inaccurate, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

PS The best part is that this cake simply improves with age – up to a point. About 3-4 days in is perfect, if it lasts that long.

Ingredients

  • 3 clementines (ideally seedless) and 1 lime, adding up in total to around 400g raw weight
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 150g best chocolate, 70%-75% cocoa. (My favourite ones are from Lidl. Yes, really.)
  • 200g sugar
  • about 50ml vegetable oil (sunflower or rapeseed)
  • 6 good size eggs – about 360g in weight.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 2-3 good heaped dessert spoons of cocoa

Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to around 170C. All ovens are a little different so take into account what you know about yours
  • Grease and line a 21cm springform cake tin
  • Place the whole, unpeeled fruit in a fairly deep saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, taking care to top the water up from the kettle if it gets low. I forgot once, and I am still scouring the pan to this day. Not good.
  • Once the fruit has boiled, remove from heat, drain the water and leave to cool. If any of the fruit has split, which they occasionally do, take care to lose as little of the insides as possible. Also take care not to burn your fingers as it will be seriously hot.

Method

  1. Place the cooled fruit in a food processor and whizz whole; peel, pith and all. If your fruit is seedless, you can just go right ahead. If not, you’ll need to cut them in half first and remove the pips. If there is any stalk residue at the top, remove this as well.
  2. Set your chocolate melting. I do this by placing a larger bowl over a smaller bowl of boiling water and just letting it get on with it. You can use a microwave but try not to burn it
  3. Into the foodprocessor, put the eggs and sugar, right on top of the whizzed fruit. Set it going and get everything mixed in.
  4. When the chocolate is melted, do the same with this.
  5. Pour in the oil and whizz once again.
  6. Finally, add the almonds, cococa and baking powder. Once final whizz and you’re done.
  7. Pour, spoon and spatula the mixture into your prepared, lined tin and make sure the surface is even.
  8. Scrape the bowl, enjoy, then check your face for chocolate smudges.
  9. Bake in the preheated over for around 40-45 minutes. This is not an exact science. When ready, the cake will have risen and may well have cracked. A fork or skewer will come out cleanish, but you don’t want to dry it out. Too soggy is far better than too dry. The first few times you make it, just observe and see what seems to work best. You’ll soon get the feel for it.
  10. Place the cake in its tin on a wire cooling tray. When cool, or nearly cool, release the spring form and carefully remove the base and the paper. Put the cake on a plate or cake stand.
  11. You can eat this when warm, but it is much better to let it cool. If possible, leave till the next day before getting stuck in. It is gorgeous on its own, but would also work well with creme fraiche or pouring cream.
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