An intense Orange Cake with layered Orange Curd, fennel flavored whipped cream on top n Dark Chocolate shavings
The goodbye of the winter comes with the disappearance of fresh oranges slowly from the local market n I never wanna say goodbye to oranges, partly because citrus are one my favorite flavors n aroma and because oranges are oranges n I just love the color orange. In fact my favorite color is yellowish orange which reminds me of the sun at dusk n dawn n fire n off course the oranges themselves. So before the oranges say goodbye I captured them in this cake-hoping this recipe would last forever n please us time n time again.
I have memories of making orange cake before, possibly last year I made them in my sister’s home-orange cupcakes n I have memories of reading about orange cakes from one of my favorite cookbooks-Recipes from a Provencal Kitchen by Michel Biehn n Bernard Touillon n I used to imagine the aroma reading that recipe n the description. But my cake comes from my experience of flavors that go well with orange, in my cake I have used fennel seeds known as ‘Mouri’, ‘Saunf’ in Bengali n Hindi respectively, this spice is aromatic with a soft aniseed flavor n it goes well with both orange n chocolate.
So the cake formed itself in my mind and I was looking for an opportunity to incorporate these flavors into the cake, so I slightly roasted the fennel seeds n pounded them until smooth n I mixed them into the cake batter and later on I used the same powdered form into the whipped cream. I was also looking for opportunities to produce a real soft light cake –that will mean incorporating air into the batter in many ways so the cake comes out light as a dream.
So there are many ways to incorporate air into a cake batter- we can use leaveners, we can use whipped egg whites to give more air, we can use more sugar while creaming the butter n sugar together, we can use heat while beating the eggs to stabilize them holding more air-so in this cake I whip the egg whites to almost stiff peak and then folded them into the batter. I creamed the sugar n butter very well for a good 7 minutes until it became really light n pale.
I used fresh orange juice in the cake which is an acidic ingredient, so I used Baking Soda to react with that acid n produce air bubbles n therefore making the cake light, I also used Baking powder which reacts in 2 parts, once as it comes in contact with water, second when it goes inside the oven-the heat initiates another reaction producing more air bubbles.
I wanted the cake to speak of orange mainly with background flavors of fennel n dark chocolate, for that I used the orange zest because that has the essential oil n fragrance of orange which is so very beautiful, and how will I make a good orange cake without either the orange zest n the fresh orange juice!
And there is more, the two layers of the cake hold a sweet secret- a beautiful delicious orange curd, rich with egg n butter n orange. It kicks the orange flavor to a new height; at the same flavor it provides moisture.
When you bite into the cake you get this amazing orange flavor, then in the background you experience this subtle flavor from fennel seed and once in a while a little dark chocolate comes n seduces you but you never lose your focus from orange…it’s a beautiful bite-every flavor is in harmony n married to each other.
So now I will take you to the recipe.
For The Recipe: You will need
Pre-heat your oven at 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit
You will also need Dark chocolate shavings- you can do this with a big Chinese chopper, cutting the bar really thin n the stripes roll themselves as you slice them really thin or with a sharp knife scrape along the bar and you will see rolled up shavings coming out.
Now you can eat the cake but I will suggest you place the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour, so after an hour take the beauty out and first show it to everyone, create the anticipation, then gather everyone and keep a sharp knife ready, slice through the beauty with uttermost love and then it approaches your lips...the moment, let it kiss you and then you get the taste, you get the aroma. Sooooo good right! Bon Appétit.