I recently wrote about the treasure of lemons and their versatility. Give me a bag of lemons and dozens of recipes flow through my mind. Give me a bag of oranges and my repertoire is more limited. I don't know why this is. I'm a big fan of oranges but I've just never cooked much with them.
Although my orange recipes are limited, the few I do have are pretty special. I have a recipe for "The Amazing Orange Cake", a recipe by Margie Agostini of Caffe Agostini in Sydney that she gave to my all-time favourite cook Jill Dupleix to generously share with her readers. It more than lives up to its name - it's the most rich, moist, buttery cake I've ever eaten and seconds is not enough. I think this is the best cake I've ever eaten (and that's a big call from someone whose first preference is for chocolate or lemon cake). But there's a certain freshness and lightness to an orange cake that is different from the tang of a lemon cake or the dense sweetness of a chocolate cake.
The Amazing Orange Cake is an "occasion cake", one to make to impress guests. It's also huge, using half a kilogram each of flour, butter and sugar, and takes more than an hour to bake. So for times when I feel like an easy cake, I make my mum's simple orange cake. She made this cake all the time when we were kids and I can see why. It's a simple cake, using the bare minimum of ingredients that are always in the pantry. It takes a few minutes to mix up and just half an hour in the oven.
Having recently received a bag or enormous juicy oranges as a gift, I quickly whipped this up and it was gone within the day, which is always a good recommendation!
SIMPLE ORANGE CAKE
250g self-raising flour
juice and rind of 1 orange with enough milk to make 1/2 cup liquid
Cream butter and sugar, add well-beaten eggs, then add flour and lastly liquid of juice and milk and finely grated rind. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) in an orange-cake tin (I used a loaf tin) for 35-40 minutes.
For icing, melt 1-2 teaspoons of butter, then sift in 2/3 cup of icing sugar and mix with orange juice (and some fine zest if you like) to make a soft icing.