Thank you for your feedback on the last post. Those thoughts had been brewing for some time and I needed to get it off my chest. It turns out that many of you feel the same – big sigh of relief for me and virtual high-five for you! I have a feeling that I have more to say about this topic, and others, but you might be pleased to know that there is no crankiness from me today: there is only cake and it’s a good one.
There are many reasons to celebrate this cake and the first is that there is no creaming of butter and sugar involved. I really, really dislike creaming butter and sugar. It sounds petulant (and that’s a fair judgement) but the whole faffing about with bringing the butter to room temperature and setting up the cake mixer just annoys me. Batters that come together with a light stir make the whole experience so much more relaxing and this one takes all of 15 minutes to whisk the dry ingredients, whisk the wet (in another bowl), stir the two together and shove in the oven. This is a cake that gives far more than it takes.
For all its minimum effort, this cake delivers on maximum flavour – its second obvious virtue. I love the light, damp flavoursome crumb that you get from yoghurt cakes and this one is infused with the beguiling fragrance of orange blossom and ground cardamom. If you’ve never used orange blossom water it’s worth tracking down from Middle Eastern delis, herb and spice retailers, or even some good supermarkets. A little goes a long way, so buy a small bottle, and I promise that you will get through it soon enough when this recipe becomes your go-to cake. Atop the pale orange crumb you may, if you are so inclined, drizzle an orange-infused cream cheese icing. Cream-cheese icing just has that OMG factor (don’t you think?) and this one is no different. It’s gorgeously indulgent, but I only include it when making the cake for a party or gathering. If I’m making the cake for casual snacking I like to keep it simple with a light dusting of icing sugar and tangy Greek yoghurt served alongside. Both versions are divine.
Third and last, this cake looks great. The original recipe calls for a sprinkle of chopped pistachios to top the icing, which sets off the golden cake and creamy icing perfectly. I happen to have dried rose petals in my cupboard right now (bought for a culinary experiment that is still in the experimental stage) and a few of these scattered over makes the cake look extra special. The pretty is upped even more if you bake it in a bundt tin and make it look like a giant flower. Speaking of bundts, if you’re going to use one, save yourself the heartbreak of stickage/breakage by prepping the pan properly. Grease the pan throughly with butter, don’t miss a single tiny ridge or crease, and dust the entire surface with icing sugar, not flour. If you’re skeptical of my advice, I refer you to the experts and this authoritative article.
The recipe for this delightful cake comes from the creative Hetty McKinnon of Arthur Street Kitchen, but I first saw it featured on Elizabeth’s lovely blog, The Backyard Lemon Tree. I’ve made a couple of tiny adjustments to the original (more juice in the icing to make it thinner and the addition of rose petals) but really, it was already perfect. You’ll note in the recipe that you can make it with either melted butter or macadamia oil. I’ve tried both and agree with Elizabeth that the oil version is slightly better, so that’s what I recommend. I also recommend that you freely and openly share this cake as it will do wonders for your baking reputation. No-one has to know how simple it was to make.
Orange Blossom & Cardamom Yoghurt Cake
1 cup (250ml) macadamia oil (or 250g salted butter, melted and cooled)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one orange
3 Tbsp orange juice
1 cup (250ml) thick Greek yoghurt
2 tsp orange blossom water
300g self-raising flour (or 300g plain with 4 tsp baking powder whisked through)
300g raw sugar, fine/granulated/caster
1 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of salt (if using oil, skip using butter)
Icing sugar (powdered sugar), for dusting
For the icing:
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
90g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
dash of vanilla extract
4-5 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
To decorate (optional):
2 Tbsp pistachios, chopped
2 tsp rose petals
Preheat oven to 160ºC / 320ºF. If using a bundt tin, grease it thoroughly with butter and sprinkle icing sugar over all surfaces, shaking the tin to ensure it coats every crevice, then tapping it upside down to remove excess sugar. Alternatively, grease the sides of a 22cm springform tin and line the base with a circle of baking paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt (if using) in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk.
In medium bowl, whisk together the oil (or butter), eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, yoghurt and orange blossom water.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet and fold together gently using a large spoon or spatula. Mix until just combined – do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving platter. Dust the top with icing sugar, or, wait until the cake is completely cool then top with cream cheese icing (instructions below).
If making the icing, whisk together the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice and zest. Once smooth, spread the icing over the cooled cake, nudging it to the edges and letting it run down the sides a little. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and rose petals.