As part of my Year of the Earl, I’m also looking to bake with Earl Grey in various different ways. So when I found a blueberry and orange cake with Earl Grey syrup in Annabel Crabbe’s Special Delivery, I was pretty excited.
The cake itself is blueberries and ricotta and orange zest, and it’s pretty straightforward. You make the batter, layer half of it in a springform pan, put most of the blueberries in the middle, and then cover with the rest of the batter and scatter a few berries on top.
While it’s cooking, you make a syrup. The original recipe called for Lady Grey, but I decided to make a change – WHAT A NOT-SURPRISE – because I don’t actually have a lot of Lady Grey (waaaat?!). I do, however, have a great deal of French Earl Grey and I figured that the flavours in that would complement the berries and orange well enough.
So the syrup is three teabags’ worth of tea, steeped for about 5 minutes, then boiled with orange juice and sugar for a little bit. And the syrup itself was very nice, but… not really very Earl Grey-y. I’m honestly not convinced it made much of a difference; and I can’t see that making it with Lady Grey would have been any different. Maybe the tea needs to steep for longer, to get more tannins or something? I don’t know. Maybe a bit less orange, since that was the dominant flavour for me.
Anyway. It was a very nice cake and I’m happy to have made it (although I think I over-mixed it as it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I expected).
I don’t have the opportunity to cook epic desserts all that often, so I quite like grabbing them when they pop up. A crowd of thirteen is exactly that, so I went to The Feast Goes On (two of the editors of which I got to talk to a few months back) because I knew there were some desserts in there that I’d tagged as Must Try. And because I have a pile of oranges from my veg box, I went with the Orange Bread and Butter Pudding. (If I’d had more energy and thought about it ahead of time, I would have made the cake featured on the cover because WOAH.)
This bread and butter pudding is to your classic version as chocolate mud cake is to your average cocoa-only cake. For a start, it uses brioche. Yes. And then you segment three oranges (having zested two of them). Then you pour over warm marmalade – I used Kate’s De Milo marmalade which has oranges and blood plums and bits of crystallised ginger (and you can hear my interview with her here). Then it’s all about the cream and the eggs and not drooling over it.
It was magnificent. And dead easy, for something that looks and tastes so very epic. I’ll be making this again… when I need to make something to impress folks…
Take some orange peel. Bring it to the boil a couple of times to soften them and lose some of the bitterness. Then let them simmer in a heavy sugar syrup (1:1) for about an hour. Allow to drip for a day… or more… then roll in sugar and stuff into jars.
This is courtesy of Stephanie Alexander; the recipe is actually for candied lemon peel, which I’ve also made and is delicious. You can eat it by itself – Stephanie says a piece with a post-dinner coffee is delightful – or put it on things: I put a piece on top of some gingernuts before baking and that was a winner. Not sure where these will end up, as yet, but I anticipate they’ll keep pretty well.
Later: well, unfortunately some orange peel kept well, and some did not. Given that this is the same batch of orange peel I can only assume that I did not sterilise this jar as well as I should. Which is a really shame, since I think they were going to be very tasty.
The full recipe makes 12, you say? I say your cupcakes must be a lot smaller than mine, because this is a half batch and as you can see, they are hardly overflowing.
Gluten free cupcakes! I had no potato flour as the recipe required and little likely use for it in future. So I consulted my Gluten Free Guru (my sister) and she told me to substitute in rice flour, which I had because shortbread. So I did. Not sure what it will have done to the texture because as you can see, Bob, there were NO EXTRAS for taste testing. The batter seemed ok.
Also they’re not quite as pretty as the cookbook illustration because I had no slivered almonds so I chopped up some dry-roasted whole almonds. Taste should make up for ordinariness of appearance, I hope.