Market ingredient: Blood oranges
Difficulty: Fail safe cake. Guaranteed.
Deliciousness: Bitter sweet
Did The Beard like it? I’d serve them up for afternoon tea
Before this post goes any further, I have to ask one question: Why the hell do I not eat more blood oranges? Damn. These things are good. I never give oranges in general a chance. I discount them over other seemingly more interesting fruit all the time. I get distracted by peaches, persuaded by pomegranates, and lured in by perfect pink lady apple. But the humble orange – I just walk on by. Until this week. I was actually on the hunt for ruby red grapefruit as I’d sort of been set a little challenge (although that’s the opposite of what this blog is about – I’m supposed to find a food and be inspired to cook, rather than thinking of a recipe and seeking out an ingredient). Whilst there was not a grapefruit to be seen at Eveleigh Markets this week (or any other week now that I think about it) I was stopped in my tracks by the deep crimson flesh of these organic blood oranges. See you later grapefruit.
Blood oranges are pretty common in Spain and Italy, but less so here. They tend to be a little smaller than your average orange, but usually pretty sweet. And the spectacular crimson flesh adds a bit of flair, visually, to things like salads. Mamma Brown makes a superb orange cake with whole oranges, one which I’ve been dying to learn, and this felt like the perfect opportunity.
Upon arriving a Casa Del Brown, Mamma Brown whips out the most amazing cookbook: “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” by Claudia Roden. With a well-worn cover clearly photographed in the 70s, and dog-earred internal pages, this book had clearly been well-loved by my mother. Interesting to flick through cookbooks of the past – no photos. These days cook books are more photos than recipes. It’s the imagery that really tends to get you salivating and, to be honest, makes you feel comfortable about what the dish is supposed to look like! However, this classic number had a couple of hand sketches of herbs and that was about it.
Anyway, I’ve tasted this cake before and I knew how incredible it was. Powerful, punchily orangey and generally all you need would be a good dollup of icecream or even yoghurt. However, I decided to have a little bit of fun and give these a meringue top. Regular icing would be too much on such a cake, but the looked a little flat as just cakes on their own. The meringue top makes them look a like a mini lemon meringue pie. Only it’s not lemon and it’s not a pie. But it is citrus, so it’s kind of related.
This cake is also good for the Coeliacs / gluten – frees out there. Made with almond meal, and not flour. I only made enough meringue mixture for half the cupcakes, so I’ve doubled the amount to give you the measurements below. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Blood Orange Meringue cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes
- 4 small blood oranges
- 225g almond meal
- 225g sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup of sugar
- Add enough water to a saucepan to just cover the 4 oranges. Bring the oranges to the boil and boil for about an hour, or until the oranges have become very soft. Remove from the water and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Spit each orange in half and remove any seeds. Using a bar mix or whizz or blender, blend all the oranges into a pulp, including the skin.
- Beat the eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the orange pulp and mix well. Please note the mixture will seem very wet.
- Place a cupcake paper in each hole in a cupcake tin. Spoon the mixture into each case and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes or so, or until the mixture seems dry when you place a wooden skewer into the cake. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool
- For the meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, mixing thoroughly and then continuing to add more.
- Drop the temperature of the oven back down to about 150 (and leave the fan off). Spoon the meringue mixture onto the cupcakes and roughly spread around. If you leave the mixture a little rough and don’t smooth the imperfections, you’ll end up with nice, crunchy edges of the meringue. Place the cakes back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the meringue has browned slightly.
I was really pleased with how these turned out. The meringue is very simple in flavour, which complements the intensity of the orange cake, and the crunchy exterior of meringue gave way to a soft, marshmallow-y interior. It was really quite lovely.