Hmm, apparently my ability to take photos of brown squares of cakes hasn't improved yet...
This is the perfect cake to have in your repertoire - it's so, so easy to put together and quick to bake but the flavour and texture are just divine. I have made it a number of times before, but have tweaked slightly to suit my taste. The original recipe is from Nigella Lawson and it's the Storecupboard Chocolate Orange Cake in How to be a Domestic Goddess. It is also a very adaptable recipe - Nigella herself uses exactly the same ingredients in her Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes in the same book (swapping cherry jam for marmalade), so if you're wondering whether the recipe works as cupcakes, it does. (I have tried this out too, and the cupcakes are very good!)
When I have made it in the past I followed the instructions to use an 8"/20cm round springform tin and always found it needed slightly longer than the specified 50 minutes to bake and it tended to catch and overbrown slightly around the edges before the middle was done. I've made it in an 8"/20cm square tin and after 40-45 minutes it's perfectly cooked around the edges and in the middle - win/win.
The quality of the marmalade is important in the cake. I know that sounds like a silly thing to say because of course it will be - the marmalade is a key ingredient. From experience I know that using too bitter a marmalade will not be very pleasant - even though there is a lot of sugar in the recipe, the bitterness still comes through. This time, I had a jar of marmalade that I had used for a couple of other cakes where I had wanted that bitterness, and had found this particular jar sadly lacking. However it struck me as perfect for this cake, where I don't think you actually want a particularly bitter marmalade. I did want to make sure that the orange flavour was there though and added some of my latest favourite - orange extract (I bought mine from Lakeland - a dangerous place to shop...). This really boosts the orange without any bitterness.
Another brown square...
100g dark chocolate, roughly broken (I used Green and Blacks 85% cocoa)
245g orange marmalade (I used Bonne Maman Mandarin marmalade)
150g caster sugar
1tsp orange extract
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour
Method (this is truly simple!)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and line an 8"/20cm square shallow tin.
- Melt the butter over a low heat and when it is melted add the broken chocolate. Stir until melted.
- Add the marmalade, sugar and extract and stir until well amalgamated.
- Add the eggs, beating them into the mixture until well combined and then add the flour, folding it through to make sure you don't have any unmixed bits.- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from tin and allow to cool, or eat hot as a pudding with icecream.
I love this cake - it's moist and fudgy and on the start of the cake to brownie scale - at the cake end but with a slightly brownie-like texture due to the high sugar content. The peel in this marmalade is quite fine and soft - I missed the chewy texture of the peel in the more bitter marmalades I've used in the past, but I didn't miss the overall bitterness that too strong a marmalade can give. Adding the orange extract worked well here to boost the orange flavour, as I knew the marmalade didn't have enough punch. This is perfect for an indulgent treat during Chocolate Week.
This would be a great family recipe to make with little ones. The melt and mix method is easy for little hands and the chocolate orange flavour is great for children too - especially if you do what I did and use a relatively mild-flavoured marmalade and boost the flavour with orange extract. This avoids any unwanted bitterness. It's also perfect for harrassed mums who are having dessert demanded of them but haven't got time to think what to make - perfect with custard or icecream. Any leftovers are perfect as a gettting home from school treat. I really hope you make and enjoy this cake - it's one of my perennial favourites!