Friday, 11 March 2011

Seville Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

After spending the last few weeks turning piles of citrus fruits into various culinary delights I finally thought I had used up the glut. So, you can imagine I was rather crestfallen to find a bag of forgotten Seville oranges hiding away at the bottom of the vegetable rack. Any frustration was short lived though; Seville oranges have the most wonderful aromatic, bitter flavour and, with such a fleeting season, I wanted to make the most of them.

A grey and rainy winter afternoon just calls out for a slice of homemade cake.  So, after dusting off my trusty copy of Nigella's How To Bake, and digging out my mixing bowl and wooden spoon, I got down to cooking this easy peasy orange squeezy loaf cake. 

I am not a natural born baker: for one thing I find it almost impossible to measure ingredients properly or follow recipes to any degree of accuracy.   It's not because I think I know better (well, maybe sometimes...) but more because I enjoy improvising in the kitchen and making things up as I go along.   Sometimes though it's worth being disciplined just to see the condensation run down the kitchen window and smell the rich, citrus perfumed fug as a cake bakes in the oven.

The good thing about this cake is that in essence it's just a simple sponge recipe with a few added extras to jazz it up.  It's very easy to make, with minimal ingredients and the syrup should keep it moist for a week (if it lasts that long!). The original recipe uses lemons and here I have just swapped them for the same amount of Seville orange juice and zest. The Seville oranges give it a delicious bitterness and the juice cuts through the sugar to make the syrup lovely and tangy.   The poppy seeds are my own addition, leave them out if you want  but I think they look pretty and add a nice crunch.  And of course I had to get my own twist in the recipe somehow.

Seville Orange and Poppy Seed loaf cake

125g softened butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 Seville orange
175g self-raising flour
4 tbsp milk
2tbsp Poppy Seeds (optional)

for the syrup:
juice 2-3 Seville Oranges (about 4tbsps)
75-100g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (23x13x7cm) with baking parchment. (I lined the base and ends of the tin and buttered the sides thoroughly)
Cream together the butter and sugar and then add the eggs, beating them in well. Add the flour and orange zest and fold in gently but thoroughly until well mixed. Add the 4 tbsp milk and mix well.
Add poppy seeds, spoon into the loaf tin and smooth the surface. Place into the oven.
Cook the cake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Place the orange juice and icing sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven poke holes all over the top with a skewer and pour the warm syrup mixture evenly across it.
Leave in the tin until completely cold, then carefully remove and slice


  1. This looks great. I really like the addition of the poppy seeds. Yum!

    1. Thanks! It's a good cake to bring some sunshine to the winter gloom!