Chocolate orange and cardamom cake

It’s December tomorrow. Seriously? I know me, you and everyone we know is saying the same thing but HOW IS IT DECEMBER TOMORROW?! It just freaks me out how quickly this year has gone. With December comes party season and with parties comes at least one fancy ass cake. I like to think this would be a great addition to any dessert table this Christmas. It’s dark and chocolatey but perfectly flavoured with orange and a hint of cardamom. Cardamom is hands down my favourite spice and I’ll find a way to work it into most desserts if I can.

A few years ago I thought I had found my favourite chocolate cake recipe but it turns out it was just a place holder for this one. The credit has to go to Hummingbird High as I slightly adapted the recipe from her chocolate cake. I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour, replaced the buttermilk with creme fraiche and a splash of milk and instead of coffee I just used boiling water. I didn’t want the coffee to throw off the flavour from the orange zest. I also added in two teaspoons of ground cardamom as well. The result is an incredibly moist (ugh I know but there’s no other word) and fudgy chocolate cake. I left the cake out overnight last night with a slice cut out and it wasn’t even dry this morning. It would keep really well if your guests didn’t polish the whole thing off.

The lovely guys at Lindt very kindly sent me over some of their chocolate orange truffles to try out and I thought they’d make the perfect decoration for a cake. If I was really going all out I’d love to brush a little edible gold leaf onto the truffles before adorning the cake with them. I frosted the chocolate sponge with an easy orange cream cheese frosting and poured dark chocolate ganache over the top just because it’s nearly Christmas and if you can pour dark chocolate all over a cake at Christmas when can you 😉

Chocolate Orange and Cardamom Cake
(cake adapted from Hummingbird High)

  • For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 260g (2 cups) plain all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 400g (1 3/4 cups) caster sugar
  • 90g (3/4 cups) cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200g (scant 1 cup) full fat creme fraiche, room temperature
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 240ml (1 cup) boiling water
  • zest of 1 large orange

For the frosting:
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
175g (3/4 cups) cream cheese, room temperature
500g (4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
zest of 1 large orange

For the dark chocolate ganache:
150ml (2/3 cups) double or heavy cream
75g (2.6oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line two 8inch/20cm cake tins and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarb and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the creme fraiche, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, water and orange zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
  4. Divide between the two cake tins. Tap the tins onto the worktop to knock out any air bubbles and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tins.
  5. For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until just combined. Sift in the icing sugar and slowly mix together. Turn the speed up and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy then add in the orange zest.
  6. Level your cake layers off and place the bottom one on the stand. Cover the top with frosting and place the second layer on top. Crumb coat the top and sides and leave to set for twenty minutes in the refrigerator. Ice the cake with the rest of the frosting using a palette knife to smooth it down.
  7. Leave to set for an hour or more. In the meantime, make the ganache. Heat the cream until just hot but not boiling and add the chopped up chocolate. Take off the heat and keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool until it reaches room temperature and has thickened slightly.
  8. Starting in the centre of the top of the cake, spoon the ganache on and slowly work it out towards the edges using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula so it starts to run down the sides. Don’t overdo it, you might not need to use ALL the ganache. You just want it to start dripping over the edges, not covering the sides.
  9. Decorate with Lindt chocolate orange truffles and add a little drizzle of ganache to each truffle.

Basic pumpkin bread

I feel like by calling this basic I am insulting it but what I mean is, this is a delicious no frills pumpkin bread that is easily adaptable should you wish to add any kind of browned butter, chocolate chip, cranberry frills. I’ve made this a few times and each time I felt like I was adding too many frills, at one point you wouldn’t have known there was pumpkin in it (largely due to too much treacle) so I stripped it back and there it was, a super simple but delicious loaf perfect for afternoon coffee.

This was what I had been thinking about just before I made this bread. Stop overcomplicating life/recipes. The reason my last few recipes had failed was because I had made them too complicated. I like a strong ginger flavour so I put 1.5 teaspoons in but you can adjust the spices to your taste. I’ll be sneaking a slice of this into work for my 3pm sugar craving. Continue reading

Apple, parsnip & rosemary syrup cake

I go mad for vegetables or herbs in cakes. It’s like, it shouldn’t work but it does…and it tastes better than any cake ever made before. This is why carrot cake reigns supreme. Rosemary is just my absolute hands down favourite herb in the history of herbs forever amen. I sprinkle it on as much as I can get away with and now I want to bake with it for eternity. I’m getting carried away? Ok. I took this cake into work, left it in the communal kitchen and it was gone within ten minutes.

I’ve had a few posts recently with chocolate in so I decided to try something different, otherwise I’d have been all over the salted caramel chocolate cake.

Continue reading