Monday, 24 September 2012

Orange, Ginger and Walnut Cake

I was asked to judge a cake competition last week, at my old school Central High; I was quite honoured. They were looking for one girl to go forward to a national baking competition, to represent the whole school. I wasn't informed how many cakes there might be, or that it was open to the whole school, so was a little bit overwhelmed to arrive and be told I was judging sixty nine cakes...

Myself and Kate Emmett of Cake Poppins Bakery fame had the huge task of tasting every single one of them, all lemon victoria sponges, a Mary Berry recipe that she has created specially for the competition. We were judging on taste, presentation and technique. It was quite good fun to start with; I like lemon cake, most of them were pretty decent cakes, with only one or two disasters in the taste department, still not sure what on earth was in those ones... I made sure I said things like 'this one's a good bake' and 'I think this might be over worked' or 'too much raising agent here' to pretend that I was actually taking part in an episode of Great British Bake Off, or simply that I had some idea about baking in general...

It was all going well until we got about three quarters of the way round when it became pretty hard work. We were tasting tiny, tiny pieces, but even with that in mind it was difficult not to be overwhelmed by sugar, icing, sweetness... My head started to spin and I'm sure my sight went a bit funny... We did select some worthy winners in the end, a few of the cakes really stood out, so hopefully those girls will do us proud in the next round!

Inspired by the girls efforts and also just because I opened the paper and saw this Dan Lepard recipe and wanted to eat it straight away, I have also been baking... It is quite a simple cake to make and full of delicious sharp zesty orange, tangy ginger and warm toasted walnuts. It is not too sugary sweet, just a tasty slice of cake to have with your afternoon cup of tea. You could probably convince yourself it was acceptable for breakfast too, I did...

To start line a 30cm long loaf tin with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Then grate the zest of 5 oranges and keep the oranges and zest to one side. Add 225g of caster sugar to a pan, with 150ml of juice squeezed from the oranges and bring it to the boil. Remove it from the heat and add 100g of unsalted butter and leave it to melt. Taste it at this point, it tastes bloody lovely!

Leave the mix to cool slightly and then add the zest from the oranges, some grated fresh ginger, a piece about 2-3cm long, and 75ml of double cream. Then beat in 3 free range eggs followed by 325g of plain flour and 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

Finally spoon a third of the mix into the tin and add a handful of chopped walnuts evenly over the top with a sprinkling of cinnamon, then add the next third, more walnuts and cinnamon, then the final third and top with more walnuts and cinnamon. I used 100g of walnuts in total, I'd maybe use even more next time... Then bake for 50 minutes in the oven. It is delicious and actually gets better day by day. The crunchy sweet top with toasted walnuts was my favourite bit...


  1. What a lovely cake! So glad I came across this post in time for the bake off at work. I came first! Definitely a recipe to keep. Thank you.

  2. So glad you won! Well done! It's a pretty delicious cake.

    Anna x


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x