In our cold inland climate during the last month of winter you become hungry for colour in the landscape. The deciduous trees have long lost their foliage and while the countryside has a bare beauty, your eyes delight at a pop of citrus orange against deep green leaves. We are yet to plant orange or lemon trees so I was ecstatic to accept a bag of lemons from a friend, and the offer of picking oranges in the backyard of another. Quickly my mind started mentally scanning my memory for citrus recipes. Out of our collection of cook books and recipes torn from magazines and newspapers, Mickey Robertson's Orange Cake on page 210 of 'The House and Garden at Glenmore' is an all time favourite. You may have a similar recipe in your collection that calls for oranges to be boiled to the point that they can be pulped and combined with other ingredients. I made almond meal from whole almonds, which can be more economical than buying almond meal. For the first time I baked the Orange Cake in a bundt pan. I took care to grease the inside of the bundt tin and toss it with flour, but I was still nervous that the cake would stick. You can imagine my relief when it released easily from the pan and looked even better when the Orange Syrup and orange zest was poured over the cooled cake, pooling temptingly on the serving plate. We served our Orange Cake with vanilla ice cream as a Sunday night dessert.
With such an abundance of oranges and lemons, I made the most of the opportunity to make Marmalade. There are many Marmalade recipes, but I tried a recipe from 'The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints.' Mine is the 52nd edition, originally published in 1936, and has seven (!) recipes for Marmalade. The recipe I chose takes several days of resting time, but it did make a lovely Marmalade and set beautifully. It was particularly satisfying to spoon jam onto a cooled plate, run my finger through it and see the tell tale setting point ripples. The recipe made about 16 x 250 ml jars of Marmalade so there is plenty to store and give away to family and friends.
With the Marmalade made I was able to try Matthew Evans's Steamed marmalade pudding from 'Winter on the Farm.' The pudding batter is very simple to mix and the marmalade and golden syrup placed in the base of the pudding bowl infuses flavour and creates a thick sweet sauce. When you invert the pudding on a serving platterto cut and share at the table it creates a sense of occasion. I'd like to try it again steamed in individual servings that feel special, like a pudding for one.
If you have access to lemon and orange trees, I encourage you to pick a basket full and join me in celebrating citrus this winter.
Orange Cake, from 'The House and Garden at Glenmore,' by Mickey Robertson
What you need: Orange Cake - 2 oranges, 3 eggs, 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar, 300 g (3 cups) almond meal, 1 teaspoon baking powder; Orange Syrup - 1 orange, 165 g (3/4/cup) caster sugar.
What you do: Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease and line a 22 cm round springform pan or similar. Place oranges in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and cover with cold water again. Bring to the boil for another 15 minutes. This process reduces the peel bitterness. Refresh under cold water, and when cool enough to handle, chop roughly, removing seeds. Further refine chopped oranges in a food processor.
Using an electric beater, whisk eggs and caster sugar until thick and pale. Add orange, almond meal and baking powder and fold through to combine. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer placed in the centre comes out clean.
To make the syrup, use a zester to remove the orange skin, leaving the pith. Squeeze the juice from the orange. Place the zest, juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat for a minute until sugar dissolves, then increase heat ad bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes until syrup thickens.
When cake is cooked, leave it to cool for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a serving plate. Gently prick the surface with a skewer and spoon or pour the syrup over the top. If making the cake in advance, leave the cake in the tin and pour the syrup over the top. Release from the tin before serving.
'The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints'
What you need: 7 Seville Oranges, 2 lemons, 4 1/2 litres water, 4 1/2 kg sugar.
What you do: Cut oranges and lemons thinly. Add water and stand for 36 hours. Bring to the boil, and let boil for 2 hours. Allow to stand for 20 hours. Bring to the boil and add the sugar, then stir as little as possible. Let it boil for 1 hour. Heat the jars and fill them with the hot marmalade. Seal with lids and let cool.
Steamed marmalade pudding, from 'Winter on the Farm' by Matthew Evans
Place the marmalade and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat and stir until softened and combined.
Using an electric beater, combine the butter and sugar until pale. It will still be crumbly because there's limited butter. Beat in the egg until combined, then fold in milk and flour in two batches.
Grease a 1.25 litre capacity pudding basin and lightly dust with flour. Pour the marmalade into the bottom of the basin, then tip in the batter and seal with a lid or a circle of baking paper and double layer of foil sealed tightly with cooking twine.
Make a handle with the string to help lift the pudding from the pan after cooking.
Place the pudding bowl in a large saucepan and pour in hot water to come one-third up the side of the basin. Bring to a simmer and cover the pan, steaming for 2 hours, checking there's enough water and topping as needed.
Carefully remove the pudding basin from the water and take the cover off. Serve from the basin or invert on a serving plate with cream or ice cream.
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