The leaves have turned their golden colour, the shelves are stocked with Christmas cake so that means one thing. The countdown to Christmas is here. But wait. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Because it’s still 60 days until the big day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get in the winter mood in the meantime by putting together this spiced orange cake.
In actual fact, I made this cake as we have a special ‘Christmas Day in October’ at the office and I felt like contributing to the food on offer. I didn’t want to go ‘all-out’ with a fruit cake as time was limited and if you’re going to do it you may as well do it properly, but instead I came up with this, to make sure the food matched the attire.
Bursting with the Christmassy flavours of orange, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg this cake puts you right in the wintery spirit as the misty mornings and dark nights draw in.
Yields: 15 slices.
280g plain flour
170g butter, unsalted and softened
300g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp orange extract
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
250g softened, unsalted butter.
500g icing sugar
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp stem ginger syrup
Ginger biscuits, crushed.
Grease 2 deep 6″ cake tins with butter and dust with flour – making sure the bottom and sides are covered with a thin film of flour. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan).
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until pale. Mix in the brown sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating lightly inbetween each addition.
Add the flavourings and beat for 20 seconds. Take the flour mixture and add a third, stir. Add half of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the flour, once again and combine followed by the rest of the buttermilk and flour. Mix.
Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 35 minutes, checking with a skewer that it comes out clean. Once done, leave to cool completely.
While the cakes are baking, make the buttercream. Beat the softened butter for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add half the icing sugar and beat again for 2 minutes. Add the remaining half and beat once more, along with the juice of an orange and the stem ginger syrup.
To assemble, cut each layer in two you you have four identical layers of cake. Take the buttercream and spread a layer a few millimetres thick on the top of the bottom layer. Place the next layer on top and repeat the process until the final layer, which you turn upside down so the base of the layer becomes the top, allowing for a nice flat surface. Now do a crumb coat on the whole cake. You want to lock in all the crumbs to stop your top layer of frosting dragging them all up again. To do this, spread a thin layer of the buttercream all over. Once the crumb coat is done, place in the fridge for up to an hour. Once set, complete the frosting – take the remainder of the buttercream and smooth the edges and top with a cake scraper.
Scatter the ginger biscuits over the top to complete.