Gluten-free orange drizzle cake (and a 2nd birthday)

Slice of gluten-free orange drizzle cake
Happy Birthday to me! Well, not me really, but my wee blog is turning two. How time flies. While I celebrate with a large wedge of cake (more on that in a second), let me extend a heart-felt thank you to everybody who visits my little piece of the internet. Thank you to my friends and family who still show enthusiasm for new posts, to old friends who have messaged to tell me how much they enjoyed a particular recipe, to strangers on the other side of the world who share their thoughts, and to my other half who puts up with me insisting on taking 20 pictures of our plates before he can start his dinner (although, he does get to eat all these recipes, so it’s not exactly a terrible deal…).

This week’s recipe was inspired by two different people. The first was a lovely friend who came for dinner last Wednesday and who can’t eat gluten (like, seriously, not just one of these “oh eating a loaf of bread makes me bloated”…tell me something I don’t know); so I needed a completely gluten-free pudding. To me this shouldn’t be a prerequisite to a pudding that isn’t sweet and squidgy and indulgent. Or, more importantly, it shouldn’t mean no cake.

In my quest to find a great gluten-free cake recipe I came across an old folder with an assortment of allergy-friendly baking recipes. Years ago, just after I left high school, I worked with a guy, Paul, who had severe allergies not only to gluten, but also eggs, nuts and legumes. Yup. I’m pretty sure he lived off potatoes, meat and cheese. Although, on second thoughts, that doesn’t sound too bad… Anyway, an allergy to gluten, eggs and nuts makes for an incredibly tricky baking challenge. This folder I found was a collection of various recipes, which (if memory serves correctly) I amalgamated into a few Paul-friendly bakes so that he could get in on the afternoon treats that everyone else in the office got to indulge in. Of course, poor Paul couldn’t have actually eaten this particular recipe because of the eggs and nuts, but in that folder I found a gluten-free lemon cake recipe (I have no idea where I copied it down from I’m afraid!) which used polenta and ground almonds instead of flour. I’ve changed up the lemons for oranges, since it is the season for juicy, sweet oranges and I seem to be developing a theme of orange-flavoured recipes on birthday blogs. I tweaked a few other parts of the recipe and added an orange drizzle topping. This cake is gorgeous: it’s super moist, strong with orange and has a satisfying sugary crunch on top. In fact, there is no reason to save this recipe just for coeliacs, so don’t be put off by the gluten-free billing: everyone deserves a slice of this action!

One year ago:
Orange and milk-chocolate celebration cakes

Two years ago:
No-knead cardamom and cinnamon buns
Ingredients for gluten-free orange drizzle cake
250g butter, softened plus a little extra to grease the cake tin
250g vanilla sugar* or caster sugar
3 large eggs
100g polenta
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
2 oranges
60g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 23cm cake tin with a little butter and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Butter and vanilla sugar
Creamed butter and vanilla sugar
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition.
Adding eggs to creamed butter and vanilla sugar
Beating eggs into the creamed butter and vanilla sugar
4. Add the polenta, ground almonds and baking powder and mix to combine.
Adding polenta, ground almonds and baking powder to the cake mixture
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake mixture
5. Zest both the oranges and juice one. Add the zest and juice to the cake mixture and stir again to evenly distribute.
Adding orange zest and juice to the cake mixture
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake mixture and lines cake tin
6. Spoon the mixture into your cake tin and flatten the top as well as you can using the back of a spoon.
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake ready to bake
7. Bake for 1 hour until the cake has risen, the top is a dark golden colour and a skewer comes out clean from the centre. If you’re concerned about the cake browning too much then cover the top loosely with foil about half way through baking.
Gluten-free orange cake after baking
8. Put the cake, still in its tin, on a wire rack. Make the drizzle topping by simply mixing the icing sugar with the juice from the second orange (you might not need all the juice, depending on how thick you’d like the topping to be).
Ingredients for orange drizzle topping
Orange drizzle topping
9. While the cake is still warm, prick lots of holes in it using a cake skewer. Pour over the drizzle topping and leave to cool fully in the tin.
Drizzle topping on gluten-free orange cake 1
This cake is best served the day you baked it, but it will keep for a couple more days in a tupperware tub. Serve with a little crème fraiche if you like.
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake 3
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake 4
* A quick word about vanilla sugar: I’m sure you can buy this in a large supermarket or fancy deli, but to make your own simply fill a tub or jar with sugar and add a split vanilla pod (I used one that I had removed the seeds from for another recipe). Seal, and use as and when you need!

Orange and milk-chocolate celebration cakes (and a 1st birthday)

Valentines orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
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:
Homemade Seville orange marmalade
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 for orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
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.
Greasing and lining a 20x20cm cake tin
2. Sift (or stir with a whisk if you’re lazy like me!) the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Whisking the flour and baking powder
3. Add all the other cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs and orange zest) and whisk using an electric hand whisk or mixer until smooth.
Cake mixture ingredients for the all-in-one method
Orange flavoured cake batter
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.
Cake mixture ready to be baked
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.
Cooled and trimmed sponge ready to be cut
Cutting out heart-shaped cakes
6. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until it forms loose peaks.
Preparing to create the orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
7. Halve each cake.
Halving the heart-shaped sponges
Pop a teaspoon of marmalade onto the bottom piece and spread out to the edges.
Adding a teaspoon of homemade marmalade
Spreading the homemade marmalade
Add a generous dollop of cream in the middle and place the tops back on, pressing down gently.
Adding a large spoon of whipped cream
Sandwiching the cakes
8. Melt the milk chocolate in a bain marie and drizzle over the cakes.
Melting milk chocolate for cake decorations
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.
Orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
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!
Blog birthday orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes