Chocolate and orange complement each other so well (think Terry’s Chocolate Orange, although don’t try to copy the TV advert and knock the cake on the table to break it into segments!). This recipe arises from an experiment and is the second version I have made. The first reason for the experiment was to see if I could replicate a good Chocolate Orange flavour successfully in a cake. I decided that with two flavours this was the ideal candidate for a marble cake, where the batter is divided into two (or more) portions each coloured and/or flavoured separately and then randomly placed in the tin. The result is a very attractive patchy cake where every slice is unique. The chocolate part was easy: cocoa powder supplemented with some good quality chopped chocolate. I used Green & Black’s Fairtrade cocoa (I had been itching to open a newly bought tub anyway) and wonderfully rich Dark Cooks Chocolate (72% cocoa – silver & brown wrapper), available from the baking sections of most larger supermarkets. Getting a good orange flavour, however, proved less easy. My first version of the cake just did not have enough juicy orange flavour. Even though I used orange zest and orange juice (in place of milk) throughout the cake and not just in the orange half, adding some mixed peel as well, the flavour was overpowered by the chocolate. This started me thinking: I could not use any more orange juice as it would make the cake too wet. How about using marmalade, I reasoned? ….. Then I had an epiphany! I made the Fragrant Marmalade Cake and realised that what this cake actually needed was a good hit of Orange Flower water. Scent and taste are so closely linked that this lifts the orange flavour to a whole new level: the first warm slice, eaten with my eyes shut was heavenly! Next time I might just add the marmalade and/or try chopped orange flavoured chocolate as well: I will update the recipe, if necessary, to include any more improvements.
As for the cake mixture recipe, I used one handed down in our family, which I have dubbed The Adaptable Sponge. The other half of the experiment was to try making this adaptable sponge recipe in a loaf or deep round cake rather than for the shallow sandwich style ones we usually made. (It can also be quickly made to top a helping of stewed fruit, then baked to give a sponge topping for dessert.) This second experiment was also successful and I think this versatile sponge mixture will be used again and again in a variety of disguises: one of the beauties being that you never have to look up the recipe as long as you are able to weigh the eggs. (See entries at the bottom of The Adaptable Sponge page, where more links will gradually be added – currently just this recipe!)
Chocolate Orange Marble Cake
The Adaptable Sponge mixture using 3 eggs – I used a loaf tin
2tsp Cocoa powder – but more/less if you wish
25g/1oz cooking chocolate (chopped block or chips) – plain or orange flavour
Zest of 1 large orange, but no pith
1tbsp orange flower water
1tbsp marmalade or mixed peel (optional, again adjust to taste)
1. Mix the cake as above adding the zest to the undivided mixture before the flour and the milk.
2. Once the flour has been added, divide the mixture into two bowls. To one bowlful add 2tbsp sieved cocoa powder, the chocolate chips and about 1tbsp milk.
3. To the second bowlful add the mixed peel or marmalade (if using) and mix in 1tbsp orange flower water.
4. The mixtures need to be of a similar consistency, but not too runny, so add a little more milk if needed (or gently stir in a tablespoonful more flour if absolutely necessary and the mixture seems too runny)
5. Alternately and randomly put tablespoonfuls of the different coloured mixtures into the prepared tin. When all the mixture is finished up, using a skewer going down to the bottom of the tin, carefully make a zig-zag through the mixtures to give a random pattern. (If using a round tin try using the skewer to make radiating spokes from the centre, either in one direction or alternately middle to rim and then rim to middle.)
6. Bake in the centre of the oven: 170oC/325oF/Gas 3 for 50-60 minutes, or until well risen. A skewer inserted into the centre of the baked cake should come out clean.
7. Turn out onto a rack.
8. Optional: Before the cake cools, for a pronounced orange flavour, blend together 1tbsp hot water and 1tbsp sugar until dissolved and add 1tsp orange flower water. Use the skewer to make a number of deep holes in the surface of the hot cake and gently pour over the mixture allowing it to soak in. It will leave a fragrant sticky sugary crust.