Loaf cakes are a favourite of mine as not only are they easy to make and relatively straightforward, they’re easy to transport across tube and train journeys.
This one is from Ruby Tandoh’s book Crumb but I have changed it slightly with a few extra additions such as flaked almonds and pansys, and a few things taken out including the extra orange and lemon.
The taste is moist and comforting yet it is still light and spongy and the white chocolate drops inside the cake have created a creamy, rich texture which is excellently balanced with the sharpness of the orange.
It’s even better the day after when all the flavours have relaxed into each other but the flowers won’t last so if you’re using them add them at the very last-minute before serving because they will wilt if not.
Feel free to add and subtract as you wish, I’ve used pre-cut baking sheets from Lakeland for loaf tins which makes the whole thing a lot easier but cutting out baking paper and using it to line the tin works in exactly the same way.
150 unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
zest of one orange
2 large eggs
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
One pinch of salt
50ml milk (whole is best but semi skimmed will work just as well)
150g white chocolate cut into chunks
100g caster sugar
Juice of one orange
For the topping:
50g white chocolate
50g flaked almonds
fresh flower petals, ideally pansies
How to make…
Preheat the oven to 170C/150 Fan/Gas 3 and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Beat together the sugars and butter until the mixture has almost doubled in size and has become lighter in colour. This takes around four minutes with an electric mixer or twice by hand – if you’re using and electric one remember to scrape down the sides regularly so everything mixes in properly.
Add the eggs one at a time until fully mixed in, if the mixture starts to curdle throw in a tablespoon of the flour.
Mix in the orange zest and milk and continue stirring until everything is well mixed together.
Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the wet mix and blend everything together until it comes together. This doesn’t take long as you don’t want to it to be over mixed.
Stir in the chocolate chunks until they have spread out evenly and give the tin a few sharp bangs on the kitchen counter to get rid of the air bubbles. Then pop it into the oven and set a timer for around 50 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes away clean.
While the cake is cooking, it’s time to make the orange syrup. Heat the juice in a small saucepan along with the caster sugar until it has just dissolved, around two minutes of simmering.
When the cake is done take it out and prick all over with a skewer or sharp knife. Drizzle the orange juice on top until it has seemed into the cake and then leave it to cool in the tin.
As soon as the cake is stone cold – don’t be tempted to do this before – you will need to melt the white chocolate. I usually do this in the microwave for ease but if you do it this way you’ll need to be vigilant as there is a very fine line between silky melted chocolate and the lumpy burnt kind.
For a safer option, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pan of water on the hob.
Once it’s melted, drizzle over the cake. You can go for uniformity here or a Jackson-Pollock style design, let your inspiration guide you.
White the chocolate is setting, dry roast the flaked almonds in a large frying pan until they have just started to darken, around three minutes. Don’t take your eye off it as they can burn easily. Once they’re done, sprinkle over the chocolate and leave the whole thing to cool.
Fresh petals can be added at any point but if you want them to stick you’ll need to melt the chocolate very slightly – a hot teaspoon can be used for this (run it under water for a few second then apply it onto the parts of the chocolate you want to melt.
You could also leave the cake and just drizzle the white chocolate on, or throw in some silver balls as I’ve done here.