Today is my little blog’s first birthday and I want to take the opportunity to say a huge, heartfelt thank-you thank-you thank-you to each and every one of you. Whether you’ve been with me from the start of my blogging journey or you’ve just stumbled upon this site today, I massively appreciate you taking the time to visit. Blogging has been a lot more work than I first expected, as each post takes a surprisingly long time to create, from finding old recipes or developing a new one to photographing every step of the cooking to editing the photos and writing up the recipe. But I love it, and it’s even more rewarding when I get messages out of the blue from old friends who have tried a recipe and enjoyed it, or even from people I have never met who have travelled to my site across the ether of the internet. Since starting this blog I’ve had nearly 14,000 hits, with by far the most popular recipes being my slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork tagine, rosemary and garlic slow-cooked lamb shanks and slow-cooked pork belly with crackling (anyone spot a theme there…?). My mum’s magical banana bread recipe is also a favourite, and definitely the recipe that friends have told me they have baked the most (so feel free to take all the credit here mum!). However there are a grand total of 58 separate recipe posts on the blog so far to choose from so dive on in to discover more.
On to today’s business, it seemed only fitting to celebrate a birthday with a cake. Orange season is in full swing and in fact one of my very first recipes a year ago was my Bells of St Clement’s Cake. This time we’re being a bit more dainty and a lot more cutesy with our cake-making – it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow after all. When baking this recipe I would advise you to use the best quality marmalade that you can find. I used this jar:
of my parents’ new batch of homemade marmalade. It has a punchy bitter orange flavour which is balanced well with the sweet milk chocolate. Of course you don’t need to use heart-shaped cutters, but sometimes kitsch baking is the order of the day, especially when there’s an excuse to be celebrating…
Ingredients (makes 5 individual cakes)
200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
200g very soft butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
Zest of 1 orange
100ml double or whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
5 tsp marmalade
100g milk chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 20x20cm cake tin with a little butter and line it with baking parchment. A handy tip is to leave a little excess paper hanging over two opposite sides, so that lifting the cake out of the tin once it’s baked is easy breezy.
2. Sift (or stir with a whisk if you’re lazy like me!) the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
3. Add all the other cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs and orange zest) and whisk using an electric hand whisk or mixer until smooth.
4. Spoon the cake batter into the tin and level with a knife or the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack for a couple of hours to cool completely.
5. Trim the top off the sponge so that it’s level and use a heart-shaped biscuit cutter to cut out five small cakes.
6. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until it forms loose peaks.
7. Halve each cake.
Pop a teaspoon of marmalade onto the bottom piece and spread out to the edges.
Add a generous dollop of cream in the middle and place the tops back on, pressing down gently.
8. Melt the milk chocolate in a bain marie and drizzle over the cakes.
You can use a piping bag with a small, round nozzle, but if you don’t have one then you can spoon the melted chocolate into a freezer bag, push it all down to one corner and snip a little hole in the corner with a pair of scissors: voila! Homemade piping bag.
Allow the chocolate to cool and then serve to your loved ones, or scoff by yourself while watching repeats of Friends and wearing the comfiest pyjamas you own. It’s Valentine’s Day, and if you can’t treat yourself on Valentine’s Day then when can you!