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Seasonal Recipes - Orange Cake

I tempted you with a cake recipe a few weeks back, and I still haven't delivered. Sorry about that. After a week like the one just past, I think we could all do with some cake. As the chocolate beetroot cake is still a work in progress, I thought I'd share another special cake with you instead.

Navel Oranges are in season from June to October, and are more commonly grown in WA than Valencia Oranges (November to February), so the farmers markets have been flooded with beautiful juicy oranges for a few weeks now. There is a woman at my local farmers market who only sells citrus - oranges, lemons, mandarins & grapefruit - all from her orchard, and straight from the tree. While they are delicious eaten as is, standing over the sink to catch stray juice, they're also perfect for baking, as they haven't been through a processing facility, and are unwaxed (unlike supermarket produce). Most supermarket citrus has been lightly sprayed with wax to keep the skin bright & shiny, and provide a bit of protection during transport. However, if you are using the peel in a cake, the wax will come off as you zest the fruit. While the wax is not harmful, I'd rather just have the wonderfully fragrant zest, and no wax in my cake, thank you! (If you can't find unwaxed produce, a good scrub in hot water should get most of the wax off, then dry, and use as normal).

For the last three years I have entered into the cooking competition in the Perth Royal Show. And every year, I enter the Orange Cake category. The first two years I entered an orange cake that both The Husband and I felt was one of the best orange cakes we've ever had, to no success. After the second failure, I sidelined a 'cookery steward' and harassed them about the category. It turns out my trouble was what I had loved about that cake - it used the whole orange, peel, pith and all - was not what the judges wanted to see in an orange cake, as it made it 'too dense' (their assessment, not mine). So after a bit of experimenting, I ended up with this recipe for an Orange Butter Cake, and last year, I managed a Highly Commended for my efforts!

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Piper's Show Orange Cake

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • zest of 3 oranges (unwaxed, if possible)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups self raising flour, sifted

  • ¼ cup orange juice

  • ¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line a 9 x 20cm loaf tin.

Cream butter, sugar and orange rind in a stand mixer until light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

Fold through the sifted flour, and when mixed, stir in orange juice and milk.

Spoon mixture into the greased & lined tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

To ice, mix 1 cup of pure icing sugar, with 1-2 tbs of orange juice, for just enough nice thick icing for the loaf.

I don't usually ice mine, as the Show rules prohibit icing in this category, and I usually want to eat it as the judges will. So I'll say it's perfectly fine without icing, but a good citrus icing is always welcome!