Orange Chocolate Tea Cake
This is one of the best loaf cakes I’ve ever tasted, it’s flavourful and airy, it’s light and just the right amount of moist. When you take it out of the oven, the aromas released are just incredible. You really have to make it to find out for yourself. This cake is a slight variation of a recipe I baked in Pastry School a few years ago and it doesn’t happen very often that I’m smitten with a dessert, especially not a loaf cake, but this one really turned out to be memorable.
I don’t like policing people about how they should cook or what methods they should use for their baking. I like to share recipes that are easy to make because I think many people believe they can’t cook or bake and I happen to believe, just like Ratatouille’s Chef Gusteau, that “Anyone can cook!” or bake, for that matter. But I do love making recipes that are a bit more fancy, because I think it’s fun. And I really believe that if instructions are followed, especially appropriate weighing of ingredients (I’m really not a fan of the cup units), nothing will go wrong. I said weighing because professional baking recipes call for weighing ingredients in grams, not measuring; even eggs. Of course, in baking, there are much more variables that contribute to how something will turn out, from altitude to temperature, type of oven (most domestic ovens are not calibrated, which can result in variations), etc. But, same as in life, we control what we can and we let go of what is out of our control.
The recipe below is one of those recipes, that weighs everything, even the liquid ingredients. And even if it sounds weird or difficult, I assure you it’s not, it’s actually the easiest way out there, as long as you have a scale, which I cannot recommend enough getting if you don’t already have one. I have made this recipe both using weighed eggs and number of (whole) eggs (you’ll see below) and to be honest, the results, as long as you won’t be replicating this cake to sell it, are very similar. I’m giving this alternative with whole eggs because honestly, unless you will be doing something with the leftover egg (which in a bakery or restaurant is implied), it can be wasteful.
Whether you want to weigh your eggs or not is totally up to you. If you use whole eggs, try and select medium sized eggs, not large ones. If you want to go pro, there are two ways for weighing eggs, as you’ll find that you’ll almost always have slightly under or over the needed quantity with whole eggs: either crack your egg and whisk to combine the egg white and the yolk, then measure the contents and remove the partial amount that you need or crack the egg, separate the yolk from the egg white, weigh the yolk first and add egg white until you reach the required quantity. Also, sifting all the dry ingredients is an important step that I do not recommend skipping for this recipe, as I believe it really contributes to how airy and light the texture turns out. The Grand Marnier is very nice in this recipe, but if you don’t have it on hand, you’re not going to buy a whole bottle for using 10 grams in this recipe. Use brandy instead or even freshly squeezed orange juice for a non-alcoholic version.
Orange Chocolate Tea Cake
For the Orange Batter:
115g powdered sugar, sifted
15g finely grated orange zest (from one organic or untreated orange)
80g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft)
80g almond meal, sifted
130g eggs or 3 medium eggs
10g Grand Marnier liqueur
60g flour, sifted
5g baking powder, sifted
Lightly grease a loaf pan with melted butter, powder with a bit of flour, than tap against the kitchen counter to remove excess flour. Preheat oven to 170C/338F.
With the aid of a mixer, beat the powdered sugar, zest, butter and almond meal. Add the eggs, a little (is using whisked or weighed) or one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add the liqueur and mix well. You should have a glossy batter. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and gently fold in the batter with a spatula just until the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter in your prepared pan and level with a spatula.
You don’t need to clean the bowl or the mixer paddle for the Chocolate batter (unless you really really want to).
For the Chocolate Batter:
60g almond meal, sifted
60g powdered sugar, sifted
20g cacao powder, sifted
15g flour, sifted
60g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft)
75g eggs or 2 medium eggs
25g full-fat heavy cream
Sift all the dry ingredients, place in the mixing bowl, add butter and whisk with a mixer until well combined. Add the eggs, a little or one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add the heavy cream and beat until everything is combined. Pour the batter in a piping bag fitted with a round 5mm nozzle. I didn’t have one on hand, so I used a Ziploc bag and I sniped one corner to make a roughly 5mm piping hole. Use your piping or Ziploc bag to inject the chocolate batter into the orange batter. For perfect results, you can inject the chocolate batter in two columns (per width) and 4 equal rows across the length of your cake, but really any design looks just fine. And really, taste and texture are of the essence here, especially if you’ll be enjoying this cake at home. Pop in the oven for 60 minutes. Remove, allow to cool completely, then gently run a butter knife along the edges of the cake and release from the pan onto a serving dish.
This cake is great served alongisde tea or coffee and will keep at room temperature for about one day, after which it needs to be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Allow to reach room temperature before serving.