I was strolling through our local produce market the other day and was delighted to see that the blood oranges had arrived and were in plentiful supply. A bitter-sweet few weeks of red-orange blush wondrousness that I look forward to each year. If you’ve never tasted blood orange juice you’re in for a treat, it is at once refreshing, sweet and bitter; nature’s original aperitif – part orange, part chinotto, part sunset.
I’m an unyielding fan of Campari – in fact I drank so much of it on a summer holiday in Rome that just the scent of it, and blood oranges, instantly transport me back to the heat, bustle and noise of the city.
Now, an orange chiffon cake is a classic, and you know I can’t resist missing with a classic. The addition of the blood oranges and the Campari takes this cake from much loved faded Polaroid memories of afternoon tea on the patio with Grandma, to an equally pleasing afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the Seven Hills of Rome.
So, squash those fears of sponges, ungreased tins, inverted half-baked eggy disasters waiting to happen; embrace a touch of Roman Holiday and thrust your hand into the waiting mouth that is the Chiffon.
6 large eggs plus one additional egg white
225 grams plain flour
300 grams of golden caster sugar (reserve 50g for the egg whites)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest from two blood oranges – or 1 garden variety orange
125 ml of canola or sunflower oil
200 ml of freshly squeezed blood orange juice (reserve 20 ml for the icing)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Angel Food cake tin – ungreased and unlined (trust me; you do actually need this type of tin. Preferably one with feet attached to the rim. Although you’ll see in my case I threw caution to the wind and relied on just the spout – rebel)
250 grams of icing sugar
125 grams of melted butter
20 ml of blood orange juice
20 ml of Campari
Blood Orange Chiffon Cake
Preheat oven to 170c.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites (plus the extra one) into a large metal mixing bowl and set aside.
Combine the sifted flour, 250 grams of the sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest in your stand mixer bowl. Add the wet ingredients, juice, yolks, oil at once and mix on a medium speed until smooth and well combined.
Switch bowls, and beaters, and whisk the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks begin to form. Add the sugar in a steady stream and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Take a couple of large spoonfuls of the meringue and beat it into the cake batter. Don’t worry about folding at this point. This primes the batter to take the rest of the meringue mixture.
Gently combine the remaining egg white mixture in two or three batches. Mix until just combined and the cloud like wisps of white have mixed with the sunset pink of the batter.
Gently pour the batter into an unprepared Angel Food cake tin – I stress, unprepared, No lining, no greasing. Trust me on this; you need the cake to stick. Once the cake is cooked you’ll need to invert it to complete the baking process and a greased tin will mock you as you scrape up your deflated dreams and sponge up from the floor.
Bake for 55 minutes until golden and enormous.
As soon as you remove the cake (take a deep breath) invert it and rest it upside down until completely cool. Give yourself a moment to bask in your success.
Once cool, run a sharp knife around the edge and the spout and invert the cake on to your serving plate. It may require a slight tap.
Don’t worry too much if you’ve left a little of the crumb behind in the tin. Icing covers all sins.
Melt the butter and add the sifted icing sugar. Whisk vigorously, or use a hand beater if you’re worried it will split. Add the Campari and enough of the blood orange juice to form a smooth flowing consistency. Gently pour your blush coloured icing over the top of the cake allowing it to run down the sides and middle hole as you see fit, it will set as it cools. Decorate with edible flowers and pour yourself a Campari over ice with a dash of any remaining juice. Then sit back and think of Audrey Hepburn.
Original Chiffon Cake recipe from Joy of Baking.