The month of December has arrived and with it, a whirlwind of preparation and anticipation… People have started decorating their Christmas trees, putting up twinkle lights and going to Christmas markets where the mouth-watering smells of spiced wine, candied orange peel, and fresh pine trees entice them to buy treasures of all sorts and delicious homemade goods…
It’s the perfect season for baking and using ‘Christmassy’ ingredients of all kinds: Oranges and clementines are usually considered a typical Christmas fruit, with their tangy sweet zing and beautiful bright colour, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which you can find in almost every pie or cake at this time of year, and chocolates of all sorts add smiles on every face!
This week I will be exploring the combination of oranges and cranberries topped with white chocolate icing. This delicious cake can be made as a Christmas dessert or to add a note of merriment to a festive afternoon tea with friends during the holidays! Please be extra careful to use either fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe (dried cranberries aren’t as good and fall to the bottom of the cake making it heavier and more compact).
- 170g butter (softened)
- 300g caster sugar
- The zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 320g all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- A small teaspoon of baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 180ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 250g fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 180ml of milk
For the icing
- 500g mascarpone
- 50g icing sugar
- 180g white chocolate
- 150g fresh cranberries for decorating (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F). Grease a round cake pan and reserve for later. Coarsely grate the zest of an orange and set aside. Squeeze the juice of one or two oranges until you get 180ml.
In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and reserve for later. In another larger bowl, cream the butter and orange zest until smooth, then add the sugar and whisk until the texture is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is well combined.
Pour in the flour mixture and milk and orange juice, first by adding a few spoons of the flour mixture and mixing until well combined, then by pouring a few drops of the milk and orange juice. Alternate in this way until all the ingredients are used up and make sure the mixture is nice and smooth. Sprinkle some flour or baking soda onto the cranberries then incorporate them gently into the cake batter.
Pour the cake mixture into the greased cake pan and bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes or until the tip of a knife comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool on a cake rack for about 1h before icing it.
For the icing
Whisk the mascarpone and icing sugar until well combined and smooth. Melt the white chocolate on a very low heat then pour it into the mascarpone and beat until completely absorbed. The icing will turn a lovely cream colour. Pour the icing into a piping bag (once you’ve chosen your icing nozzle and inserted it into the piping bag) and start icing the cake carefully. Note: it’s easier to ice a cake on a turntable.
Smooth the icing around the sides and top with a spatula and add another layer if the icing is too thin. Pipe some icing into beautiful swirls on the top then carefully add a cranberry on each flower swirl. You can add cranberries to decorate the bottom of the cake and cut a slice of orange which you can place in the middle of the cake for colour.
Enjoy this scrumptious cake with a cup of wild berry tea while you listen to Christmas carols… guaranteed to put a smile on your face! Bon Appétit!