February 7, 2014


zesty orange and poppy seed cake This cake was Nick’s contribution to the December CCC meeting.  The theme for the meeting was festive cakes from the three counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.  We were hard pressed to find any cakes at all that you could say were uniquely from the three counties, let alone festive ones. 

I did find a recipe for a “Kedleston marmalade cake”.  After a bit of further internet research Nick found an orange and poppy seed cake on the food network website and decided to make that instead.  You can see the recipe here.

zesty orange and poppy seed cake2 It is essentially a gluten free whole orange cake.  Boiled oranges, blitzed to a pulp, ground almonds and poppy seeds go into the cake and sliced tangerines form the topping.

zesty orange and poppy seed cake3

I think his choice of cake was influenced a bit by the video.  If a bloke is going to make a cake it’s good if it’s a bloke’s recipe!  Typically he followed the recipe to the letter and it turned out perfectly. zesty orange and poppy seed cake4It was a very moist cake, more like a dessert cake than an afternoon tea offering.  A lot of its moistness came from the orange syrup drizzled over it after baking.  If we were to make it again we would probably use about half of the quantity stated in the recipe.  But it was delicious, the flavour of the oranges and the almonds coming through with a little bit of crunch from the poppy seeds.

zesty orange and poppy seed cake5Of course he then had to connect it somehow to the three counties for the CCC event.  He called it the “Rufford House Welcome Cake” and told the story of visiting monks from foreign lands bringing exotic foods as gifts to Rufford Abbey and the host monks baking a cake to welcome them.

It was all nonsense of course, but it sounded good.  I wonder how many people believed it and how many thought “I bet he made that up”!  We didn’t let on, naturally !!


I am submitting this recipe to this month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros of The more than occasional baker, and Caroline of Caroline Makes.  The letter this month is “Z” and you can see the details here.

I confess that when Nick announced that he was making a “zesty orange and poppy seed cake” for his CCC contribution my first thought was that it sounded lovely and the second was that I might just save it for a future post as it could come in very handy.  The letter Z was bound to turn up sooner or later ~ and now it has !!


For the cake

2 medium oranges

3 large eggs

250 soft brown sugar

290g ground almonds

1 rounded tsp baking powder

1 rounded tsp poppy seeds

For the syrup

juice of 1 medium orange

4 tangerines or satsumas

150g golden syrup


First, make cook the oranges by boiling them in water for about thirty minutes until tender.  Drain and place in a bowl of cold water to stop them from cooking any further.  Cut into chunks, remove any pips and reduce to a pulp in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease and line (bottom and sides) a 23cm round springform cake tin.

In a food mixer (or by hand), beat the eggs and sugar for 4-5 minutes until pale and thick.  Fold in one third of the ground almonds, then add the rest along with the baking powder, orange pulp and poppy seeds.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and passes the skewer test.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake is in the oven, make the topping.  Slice each tangerine into 8 or 9 slices, discard the ends and put them into a saucepan with the orange juice and golden syrup.  Boil for 12-15 minutes until the skins are tender and the syrup has reduced a little.  Transfer to a dish to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, prick with a skewer and drizzle the orange syrup over.  Decorate with the tangerine slices.

Cuts into 12-14 slices.


  1. Ha! He wouldn't have got that story past me, brilliant though his strategy was :-) I learnt to make this cake in my 20s, at a chocolate cake decorating workshop. It is a Viennese recipe, traditionally covered in ganache. I haven't made it for years, but it is good.

    1. Susan, I almost believed it myself, even though I knew he'd made it up!

  2. It certainly has my mouth watering so I must add poppy seeds to the shopping list and it's a done deal!

    I read about Nick's tale on http://jibberjabberuk.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/clandestine-cake-club-christmas-cakes-from-3-counties/

    I must say, I can't help but think it would be ruined by the addition of chocolate. I've heard of it with a cream cheese frosting but some things are best left as they are!

  3. I love this cake where you boil the oranges first, it looks wonderful... as it happens i've just posted something not dissimilar but I used unboiled oranges and it worked really well too.

  4. I've just made a chocolate and Seville Orange cake and it's excellent. I left off the ganache topping though - again about twice as much as the cake needed. Two whole bars of chocolate and half a pint of double cream! Migraine city here I come! To blitz the orange I had to add some of the liquid for the cake (sunflower oil) and use the whizzy stick in its jug. It just stuck to the sides of the food processor in lumps. P.

    1. Pauline, I do hope you'll be posting about that!

    2. Bravo, Nick.It looks really good.

      I'm getting a bit worried about how my contributions will compare in the LV CCC!! ;o)

    3. Gaynor, the CCC is not competitive! It's all in the eating.
      It is often the plain cakes that are the most popular and get eaten up.

  5. I could definitely do with a sunshiney, orangey cake right now. Sound lovely. I must admit that your assertion that 'if a bloke is going to make a cake it’s good if it’s a bloke’s recipe' had me thinking. I wasn't sure that it was true for me but my wife has helpfully pointed out that nobody thinks of me as a proper bloke anyway. So that's alright then.

    1. Phil, the "bake off" series has done a lot to dispel the idea that it's a bit cissy for a man to bake a cake, but Nick still finds himself drawn to the blokey style of baking.
      I suspect that he's just trying to show that if women think they can do plumbing or play cricket then a bloke can bake just as well as any woman!
      I don't think he extends the theory to ironing, sadly........

  6. I thought at the time monks wouldn't be making cake all those years ago. I searched and searched for some back up to this wasn't suprised when I couldn't come up with anything!

  7. Well monks or no monks, the cake sounds delicious and it looks pretty too - very unblokey ;-)

  8. I hadn't thought of zest for z, well done! This cake looks great - I keep meaning to try baking with poppy seeds. Thanks for entering Alphabakes!

    1. Caroline, I had zabaglione cake in mind at first ~ but luckily Nick saved me the trouble!

  9. Moist and delicious! I love orange cakes with whole blitzed oranges. Yum!