If you’ve been following me on Instagram lately, you may have noticed my slight obsession with bergamots. I seem to be drawn to interesting and lesser known fruits, and bergamots are no exception. Bergamot is a citrus, and is best known for being the flavour in Earl Grey tea. It has a slight floral flavour, which in my opinion not only makes it slightly sweeter and less sour than other citrus, but also it’s best quality. As evidenced by how many times I have used rose in my cooking, it is no surprise that I like the floral notes of bergamot. It may be a little much for some, I guess it depends on what you like, but as far as I’m concerned, it is now my favourite citrus.
This does however pose a problem. Bergamot being a lesser known variety of citrus, are therefore not grown and sold nearly as readily as other citrus varieties. To the point where I have never seen bergamots being sold anywhere here in Sydney (if you know of anywhere please let me know!).
As I have mentioned before, last year we were able to buy and plant a bergamot tree. I watched the three bergamots growing on the tree for months, hoping they would survive, and be as tasty as I hoped. Finally last month, they had turned from a bright green, to yellow and were ready to be picked. I deliberated for quite a while about what to make with them, with only three bergamots for the whole season, I needed to make a good choice.
One of the options I settled on was this loaf cake, which can be made with any other citrus if you don’t have access to bergamots. The zest in the cake, and the juice in the syrup and icing give the cake a lovely flavour that will brighten up any dreary Winter’s day.
What is your favourite citrus? Have you even eaten or baked with bergamots before?
250g margarine or softened unsalted butter
265g caster sugar
zest of 1 bergamot
265g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baker powder
Ingredients for the Syrup:
1 tbsp water
1tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp bergamot juice (about half a bergamot)
Ingredients for the Icing:
250g icing sugar (confectioners)
2 tbsp bergamot juice, approx. (about half a bergamot)
remaining bergamot zest
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a loaf pan (31 x 7.5 x 8cm, approx). Allow some of the baking paper to come above the sides of the tin so it will be easy to remove the cake from the tin later.
In using a stand mixer, beat the margarine and sugar until well combined and creamy. Add almost all of the bergamot zest, leaving some to add to the icing later. Mix well then add the eggs separately, ensuring they are well combined.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder, then add half of this to the cake batter until just combined. Add the milk, then the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
Transfer the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springy to the touch and cooked in the centre (check with a skewer).
Once the cake is of out of the oven, make the bergamot syrup by gently heating all the ingredients in a small pan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Poke holes in the cake using a skewer, then spoon over the syrup so it evenly covers all of the cake. Allow the syrup to soak in and the cake to cool.
Once the cake has cooled, remove from the tin using the overhanging baking paper to help. Make the icing by whisking the icing sugar in a medium bowl until most of the lumps have been broken up. Add the remaining bergamot zest and 2 tbsp of the juice and whisk until combined. If the icing is too thick add a little more juice (or water), if the icing is too runny add more icing sugar and mix. When you have a good consistency, ice the cake allowing the icing to run down the sides.
Reference: ‘The Violet Bakery Cookbook’ by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015), pp.114-115.