Super citrus

I’m talking about cake, of course.

Orange poppyseed cakeWell, a person needs something to keep her going when in the final throes of quilting something. And I’d seen a perfectly yummy orange poppyseed cake on this post from The Cheergerm and The Silly Yak, which I felt morally obliged to try in a gluten free form. The Husband wasn’t too averse, either…

I’m not one bit sorry. It’s fabulous.

Get over there now and collect her recipe. The only thing I’d change is adding a bit more orange zest, but perhaps my orange was a bit weak and feeble and not zingy enough.  The juice wasn’t very tart either, so the icing sugar/orange juice frosting (1 cup icing sugar, 2 tblsp orange juice) I made for it wasn’t zingy enough. All useful learning. Next time I might add some lime or lemon juice if I don’t think it’s up to scratch. The other difference was that I substituted a commercial gluten free self-raising flour for the wheat flour, same volume, and it worked perfectly. The Cheergerm says she’s also going to experiment with different GF flours to get what she feels is a healthy and balanced equivalent.

And actually, I really want to try the same recipe with limes, and maybe half a cup of coconut flakes instead of poppyseeds. You see what happens when I get my teeth into a slice of cake…? Yup. More cake.

I’ll keep you posted.

International Chocolate Week

Prompted by the lovely Kirsten at The Pink Rose Bakery, I’m posting this recipe for Jaffa Cake in response to International Chocolate Week, which starts today. I first posted about this cake nearly a year ago, and since then, I’ve made a few slight modifications to both the recipe and the process, but it’s still moist, intensely chocolatey, intensely orangey and altogether delicious. It’s also fairly simple, having only seven quite ordinary ingredients; it’s easy to make, and as a bonus, it’s gluten free.

'Jaffa' cake, lightly dusted with Dutch cocoa and served with a puddle of thick cream. Yum!

It looks like just another brown cake, but your tastebuds will be doing the fandango and begging for more.

You’ll need:
2 navel oranges (they need to be thin skinned, not too much white pith)
200g/7oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) broken in small pieces
100g/4oz unsalted butter, chopped
8 large eggs (Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, you need them all)
300g/10oz caster/fine sugar
375g/13oz almond meal/ground almonds
2 tbsp cocoa (not drinking chocolate, the good stuff – I like the Dutch kind, which is more intense.)

The night before, put the oranges in a deep pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Throw out the water, cool the oranges and refrigerate overnight. They’ll be soft and squishy. Remove the little green stem thingy at the top as this will not contribute to the flavour.

Next day, take the eggs, butter and cooked oranges out of the fridge an hour before you bake, to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180C/325F/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 24cm/9″ springform or loose bottom cake pan with baking parchment.

Cut up the 2 oranges, put in a blender or food processor and blitz till puréed. You don’t want to see any chunks of peel.

Using a stand mixer – or electric hand mixer – with paddle attachment, beat the caster sugar and eggs together on high for 5 minutes until thick and pale and the mixture ‘ribbons’. (This is when a trail is left when you dribble a bit of the mixture across the surface).

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Be very careful not to allow any water into the chocolate mixture or it will seize.  Alternatively, (and this is how I do it) melt them in the microwave in three lots of 30 seconds on full power. When melted, mix together thoroughly so there’s no visible butter left, and set aside to cool a little.

Add the chocolate and butter, almond meal and cocoa to the egg mixture, and mix on low speed till combined. Fold in the orange purée with a spoon or spatula – do not beat or you’ll knock the air out of it.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or till a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (it’s going to depend on how hot your oven is). If the top starts to brown too soon, put a layer of foil over it. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Dust the top with a little more cocoa.  Serve with lots of whatever artery clogging dairy product takes your fancy. If you’re feeling exceptionally naughty, you could add a couple of tablespoonfuls of Cointreau to the batter before baking, but it’s quite gorgeous enough without.

If you hop over to The Pink Rose Bakery, you’ll see Kirsten’s repertoire of lovely nosh, which is all gluten free.

Chocolate Week Logo

Triple Trouble 5: triangle spinoff

It was difficult, this bit.

Not piecing together the background, which was straightforward despite having to do the cutting outside on the only table large enough, and having the bits almost blow into the fountain at least twice (although I did make a mistake which I’m not going to rectify, no prizes for guessing what). No, the tricky part was placing the triangles, which are supposed to look as if they have spun off the whirling central design. In my head, I can see the finished thing: the quilting’s going to follow the curved lines on which the triangles have been placed, radiating out from the offset coloured square like curving sunrays. Nothing too fancy, just a bit of work with my trusty walking foot and some white thread.  The triangles are going to be appliqued down with orange satin stitch.

The orange quilt top layout

The orange quilt top layout

Centre detail

Centre detail

I’ve got a good idea for the green one.  You’ll just have to wait and see. Probably only until tomorrow, though!

Now that I’ve made two bags, I’m getting the bag bug. I spent an hour or so yesterday browsing for free patterns to download, plus some storage baskets to try and make my stash storage a little more aesthetically pleasing than the current multiple shoebox hodge podge… I desperately coveted the Noodle-head Basket which the lovely Sarah gave away recently as part of Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. So I’ve decided to try and make my own, probably without the divider, since it won’t be helpful with the stash storage purpose. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Trouble is, I need about 10 of them: Black & white, red, green, blue, yellow/orange, pink, purple, brown, neutrals, multicolour.  I know very well there are many impulse-purchased fat quarters in my stash which I will probably never use, and unless I make a bag out of them, they might as well be useful and become a storage basket.

Well, that’s quite enough displacement activity for the moment. Back to the sewing machine.

Triple Trouble 2

Woo hoo!  This is easier than I thought!

I started with what looked like the easiest one, and although I know I’m sewing to the wrong side of the paper template, I’m doing what works for me. On the printed side, I can see the lines more easily, and it just seems to flow more easily through my slightly damaged brain. So, the first colour block is finished, the Zeppelin. I had to unpick the very first line I sewed. I’d sewn the fabric on upside down. After that, I ‘measured once and cut twice’, and no more mistakes occurred. Which is just as well, because I was using a short stitch length to increase the perforations in the paper from the needle. Short stitches = more unpicking as well as = easier tearing away of the paper. Not that tearing away the paper was a ball, but it could have been a lot worse. There are a lot of long thin points on this one which made it difficult; the others will be easier. It’s nice, isn’t it? It certainly zings!

Orange Zeppelin block. Not too wonky for my first go at paper piecing!

Orange Zeppelin block. Not too wonky for my first go at paper piecing!

The Husband is on night shift today. There’s nothing riveting on the telly, so I may just pluck up the courage to do a second one. It’s going to have to be Circle of Geese in green. The last one, Rolling Star, is another pointy-piece frenzy, and I think I’ll wait for daylight/a night’s sleep/fresh inspiration before I start that one.

Have a good day, my friends.

The colours of light

I haven’t seen as many rainbows here as I used to in NSW. 

Rain's on the way, but first, here's the pot of gold. If you look carefully, you can just see a faint second bow at the extreme left.

Rain’s on the way, but first, here’s the pot of gold. If you look carefully, you can just see a faint second bow at the extreme left.

It doesn’t rain as often, and when it does, the downpour is too heavy to allow that delicate filtering of light through water droplets which creates a rainbow. Although the sky and clouds are splendid up here, and the sunsets can be utterly breathtaking, I miss the sudden, fleeting and magical appearance of the bow of colour, sometimes double, like the one I captured in this photo.

So I thought I’d go out and find the rainbow for myself.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Pale orange Lollipop plant SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Pale green euphorbia SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Agapanthus Blue erigeron Lobelia Indigo salvia Violet petunia Violet tree

They were all photographed within a few kilometres of home. I can’t exactly duplicate the rainbow, because these beauties are solid, and not made of light – and also, spring in the tropics doesn’t seem to run much to colours in the blue/purple spectrum much.  Any amount of red, orange, yellow and the full range of pinks, but blues are rare at this time of year.  Also, we’ve just had a thunderstorm, and the jacarandas I was counting on for some of the bluey-purple images have had their flowers battered to the ground by the rain.  So please forgive a slightly skinny selection at the cooler end of the range. I can’t decide which I like best, one of the showy tropical ones, or the sweet, small, delicate ones.  On the whole though, I think the first image, the poinciana is my favourite.

What do you think?

Chocolate Orange Cake of the Gods…

This divine gluten free cake is a slight modification of a recipe given to me by the lovely Libby.  Also known as Jaffa Cake, a reference which will be familiar to both Australians and Poms.  It’s labour intensive, and there’s loads of washing up afterwards, but on the plus side, there’s a couple of chocolatey bowls, spoons and spatulas to lick out, as well as chocolate cake heaven at the end.

You’ll need:
2 navel or Valencia oranges (they need to be thin skinned, not too much white pith)
200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) broken in small pieces
100g (4oz) unsalted butter, chopped
8 eggs (Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, you need them all)
300g (10oz) caster (fine) sugar (I keep a vanilla pod in mine for baking)
375g (13oz) almond meal
1 tbsp cocoa (not drinking chocolate, the good stuff)

The night before, put the oranges in a deep pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Throw out the water, cool the oranges and refrigerate overnight.

'Jaffa' cake, lightly dusted with Dutch cocoa and served with a puddle of thick cream. Yum!

‘Jaffa’ cake, lightly dusted with Dutch cocoa and served with a puddle of thick cream. Yum!

Next day, preheat the oven to 180C/325F. Grease and line a 24cm cake tin with baking parchment. Put the 2 cooked and cooled oranges in a blender or food processor and blitz till pureed. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Be very careful not to allow any water into the chocolate mixture or it will seize.  When melted and mixed together, set aside to cool a little. Using a stand mixer – or electric hand mixer – with whisk attachment, beat the caster sugar and eggs together on medium for 5 minutes until thick and pale and the mixture ‘ribbons’. (This is when a trail is left when you dribble a bit of the mixture across the surface). Add chocolate mixture, almond meal and cocoa, and mix on low speed till combined. Fold in the orange puree with a spoon or spatula – do not beat. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, or till a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (it’s going to depend on how hot your oven is). Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove from pan and cool completely.  Dust the top with a little more cocoa.  Serve with lots of whatever artery clogging dairy product takes your fancy.

It’s supposed to serve 6-8….