I had a baking failure just before Christmas. It was the Wednesday before Christmas and while I don’t normally work in the day job on Wednesdays, I’d been called in to do an extra day. I also had a couple of other appointments that I’d booked knowing that I wasn’t going to be working that now had to be juggled, plus I’d planned to make a batch of Nigella’s star-topped mince pies. As an aside, if you haven’t made these before, pop them on your must-bake list for Christmas next year, or Christmas in July. They’re not your average mince pie, but jewel bright with cranberries and tiny – just a bite, almost nothing, really.
The pastry was fine – this is an easy pastry to make and I did so in my lunch break. I also had the mince ready to go so when I logged off work it would be a doddle to put together and throw in the oven, giving me plenty of time to clean up and get changed for my chiro appointment while they were cooking. Of course, I got a work call and by the time I got to the oven they’d been in for about 2 minutes too long – enough to dry them out – and I was late leaving for my appointment. I dusted a snowstorm worth of icing sugar over the top, but I wasn’t happy.
Anyways, I’d bought an extra orange than what I needed for the mice pies thinking that I might make some mulled wine for Sarah and I to sip while watching our Christmas Eve movies (even though we are in South-East Queensland and as far away from winter as it’s possible to be) but, you guessed it, I had to work so that didn’t happen. The orange has been sitting on the kitchen bench taunting me ever since…until I saw this recipe by Skye McAlpine.
It’s a bit more of a palaver than my usual lemon drizzle cake is – you need to separate the eggs and have more than one bowl on the go – but it’s so lovely I’ve made it twice already. The spices give it a little extra warmth; you don’t need to add the ground cloves if you don’t want to (and the original recipe doesn’t include it), but I felt like hanging onto Christmas for just a little longer.
What you need
- 3 eggs, separated
- 120g caster sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 100g self-raising flour
- 100g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- Icing sugar for dusting
What you do with it
- Heat your oven to 180C (160C if you’re using fan-forced). Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin – note to self, that’s the slightly larger tin than the one I use for my lemon drizzle cake.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg yoks with the sugar until they are light and creamy. You can do this either by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the orange juice and zest and whisk it about too – at this point it is best to do this by hand to save having the mix get splattered about the room (yep, I did that).
- Add the flour, ground almonds, spices and salt and, switching to a wooden spoon, stir until combined.
- In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until fluffy – you don’t want stiff peaks, they should be cloudlike and billowy – and gently fold into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the tin, pop it into the oven and cook for 30-35 mins – until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- Let it cool in the tin for 5 mins before turning out to cool completely on a rack.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving.