Believe it or not, until recently I had never tried blood oranges before. I now know what I have been missing, and will be eagerly anticipating buying them when they are next in season.
The first lot I bought were from the Pyrmont Growers Markets. The flesh was a deep purple and they were clearly at their prime. I have since bought more and each time I buy them their colour is lighter and lighter, more a pink-ish hue than the deep purple of the first ones. Their flavour is still great, and I have frozen a fair bit of the juice. I saw a recipe for a blood orange, peach and mango granita in Katie Quinn Davies first book, and will be making it as soon as Australian peaches are in season!
The idea for this cake came to me after the first thing I baked with the first lot of blood oranges I bought didn’t work out so well. I found the recipe online and it combined the flavours of blood orange and coconut, and they just went together so well. Unfortunately the addition of blood orange juice in the recipe, just made the cakes very wet, soggy and unstable and they just fell apart.
I then thought about trying another cake with these same flavours, and remembered a lime and coconut cake I made a little while ago (recipe to come soon) that I thought I could adapt to suit the blood oranges. Luckily, this time it worked! While only using the zest in the cake reduces the punchy blood orange flavour a little, the blood orange icing mostly makes up for that (and the cake doesn’t fall apart!).
I used some coconut blossom sugar in the recipe, just to try it and add to the coconut flavour of the cake, but it can be substituted for caster sugar. Also, if blood oranges aren’t available regular oranges could be used.
This cake could also easily be made gluten free - try substituting the self raising flour for gluten free flour and baking powder. The quantity of flour in the cake is quite small, so as long as you don’t knock the air out of the egg whites when folding them into the batter, you should still get the same result.
200g almond meal
135g caster sugar
30g coconut blossom sugar
40g self raising flour
6 large eggs, separated
45g desiccated coconut
zest of one small/medium blood orange
Ingredients for the Icing:
2 cups icing sugar
juice from 1/2 to one blood orange
50g coconut chips
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 23cm spring form cake tin.
Beat the egg yolks and sugars in a bowl for about 3 minutes, or until they are pale and fluffy. Fold in the zest, coconut, flour and almond meal.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture, a third at a time.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, toast the coconut chips in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they will toast very quickly.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Juice the blood orange, and pass the juice through a sieve to remove the pulp. Gradually add the juice (not necessarily all of it), until you have a smooth icing. Spread over the cooled cake and use the toasted coconut to decorate.
Recipe adapted from ‘Bills Open Kitchen’ by Bill Granger (Murdoch Books, 2003), p.91.