Sunday, March 4, 2012

Little Blood Orange Cakes

Little Blood Orange Cakes 3

I have rules when it comes to buying fruit.  Vegetables too, if it comes to that.  As much as possible I like to buy produce that is grown locally, and therefore in season, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, fruit and vegetables which have been harvested as close as possible to ripeness and which have traveled the shortest possible distance to get to your table tastes better.  It's a no-brainer really.  I mean, let's face it, you know that you feel like c**p after spending 14 hours on a long-haul flight to the other side of the world, so why for a moment would you think that something as delicate as a strawberry flown all the way from Chile in the middle of our winter is going to cope with long-haul air travel any better than you do?  Secondly, avoiding out of season produce imported from the other side of the world is one way of making a small difference to my carbon footprint.  Admittedly, however, I am not fanatical about this.  I do buy imported specialty goods from time to time - cheeses, olives and olive oils, for example - but I do try not to overdo it on the imports.  And, lastly, I like to give as much support as I possibly can to local producers.

So you won't find me buying peaches, strawberries or tomatoes in the middle of winter.  And you won't find me buying lemons in January.  In short, if something grows here in New Zealand I won't buy an out of season import.  I do, however, make an exception of buying imported fruit on rare occasions when it is fruit which doesn't grow here - pineapple, bananas, papaya, mango, for example - and even though I know that here, far from where they have grown, they are not truly at their best, there is nothing quite like indulging in some tropical fruit for the occasional special treat.

With that in mind, I was faced with a bit of a dilemna this week.  At I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we are cooking with Tessa Kiros, our theme for the week was "Fight Scurvy - Eat More Citrus" - a theme I normally would have been super-excited about, except that it's so definitely not citrus season here in New Zealand right now.  I definitely wasn't about to rush out and buy up bags of lemons or oranges imported from the US.  So, just as I was wondering if I might be able to adapt something to perhaps use some of my homemade marmalade, I came across bags of blood oranges on special at the supermarket.  Now blood oranges are one of my favourite fruits, and since we don't grow them here (as far as I know) I don't feel too bad about buying imported ones.

As I've done so often over the last few months, I turned to Tessa's book, Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes, which I think by now has actually become the most used cookbook in my collection.

Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes

From there it was a breeze to turn Tessa's Little Lemon Cakes into Little Blood Orange Cakes.

Little Blood Orange Cakes 2

These little cakes are utterly, utterly delicious.  They are light, beautifully moist, and the delicate, slightly "perfumed" flavour of the blood orange makes them seem ever so slightly exotic.  These are pretty much perfect any time of day, but I think would be especially good for dessert on those occasions when you are looking for something that is not too rich or heavy.  A dollop of creme fraiche or Greek-style yoghurt would be a good addition on the side.

Tessa suggests making these in individual 3/4 cup ramekins, or a single 20cm (8 inch) cake tin.  I definitely wanted individual cakes here, but my ramekins weren't quite big enough - note to self, get some bigger ramekins.  As it turned out, Texas sized muffin tins worked perfectly.

Little Blood Orange Cakes 1

Little Blood Orange Cakes
Adapted from recipe by Tessa Kiros
Makes 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

100g (3-1/2 oz) butter, room-temperature
100g (3-1/2 oz) caster sugar
1 large, free-range egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 blood orange, grated zest and juice
60ml (1/4 cup) milk

For icing:
1-1/2 tablespoons blood orange juice
50g (1-3/4 oz) icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Lightly grease and flour the base and sides of four 3/4 cup ramekins, or Texas muffin tins.

Cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and beat well.

Add the sifted flour and baking powder, together with the grated zest of the blood orange.  Fold in with a metal spoon, just until combined.

Add the milk and blood orange juice, and stir well until fully incorporated.

Using clean beaters, beat the egg white in a small bowl until white and fluffy and holds soft peaks.  Add one large spoonful of the egg white to the cake mixture, and mix well to loosen the cake batter.  Add the rest of the egg white, and fold in gently using a large metal spoon.

Divide mixture evenly between ramekins or muffin moulds.  Put into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes - until the cakes are golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place ramekins or tin on a wire rack to cool completely.  Run a knife around the sides of the cakes to loosen and remove from their moulds.

Make the icing by whisking the icing sugar and blood orange juice together until smooth, adding more of either to achieve the consistency you want.  (I kept mine fairly runny as I wanted more of a glaze than a thick icing.)

Put the cooled cakes onto a plate, make a few holes in the top of each cake with a skewer, and dribble the icing over the top.  I topped mine off with a garnish of the Seville Orange Spoon Sweets I made a few months ago.

If you would like to get to know Tessa a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

... or check out Falling Cloudberries and many of Tessa's other great titles available from Amazon or Fishpond NZ.


I hope you'll give these wonderful little cakes a try - I'm sharing them this week at Cookbook Sundays, where my friends are delving into their cookbook collections and sharing some of their recipes.  Do stop by to see what they're cooking - you might even feel inspired to link up a recipe from one of your own cookbooks.


I am also sharing this post with Sweet New Zealand, a monthly blog event created by the very lovely Alessandra Zecchini, and which this month is hosted by the equally lovely and incredibly talented Emma at My Darling Lemon Thyme. This is an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen.  So, head on over to Emma's and share something sweet.
Sweet New Zealand Badge


  1. I take a similar approach to fruit and veg. Mangoes are never going to grow in England, so I will buy imported ones, but I will not buy Peruvian asparagus in February!

  2. I know I should pay more attention to this but I actually know so little about it and rarely think about it when I'm shopping. The little cakes look and sound delicious.

  3. I am a new found lover of blood oranges:-) They are not only gorgeous, but taste amazing! I can only imagine that these cakes just melted in your mouth, they were so yummy! :-) They look beautiful, Take care, Terra

  4. Sue - I definitely agree with you. Local fruit and veggies are so much fresher and taste so much better.

    I'm crazy about the scent of oranges and love working with them in the kitchen. I bet the aroma of these little cakes is intoxicating and they look so pretty.

  5. Oh, I love blood oranges, too...and this little cakes are completely irresistible. Just gorgeous!

  6. What a perfect litle cake for afternoon tea! Will have to try these!

  7. Oh, look at the pretty cakes! I'm a big fan of that book, too.

  8. These look so tempting, especially with that deep orange glaze on top. I have got to get a copy of Tessa's cookbook!

  9. lovely combination and presentation

  10. I love blood oranges and these little cakes are just perfect--such a pretty color too. ;-)

  11. Those little blood orange cakes look scrumptious! Fresh is best but another reason not to buy out of season produce from some countries is that they allow pesticides which are no longer used in New Zealand or the US.

  12. I love that you used blood oranges! Citrus is never in season in Canada, as you can imagine. We must always rely on the kindness of strangers. ;-)
    Lovely little cakes!
    I was thinking of doing them for citrus week, but chose the tartlettes, and messed them up. Sigh.

  13. Buy seasonal and support local - I'm with you on that Sue!
    Blood oranges - I've never seen these on sale in any of the places I shop at in Welly. Neither supermarkets or weekend markets. Maybe they have been around but I keep missing them. One day! One day...

  14. These looks wonderful! I have not seen Blood Oranges here before, have seen quite a few delicious recipes using Blood Oranges and I am ever so curious now!

  15. Your picture is so tempting, I wish I could dig my own fork into it as well :)

    Ongoing events: Microwave Easy Cooking

  16. Beautiful cakes Sue, my kind of cakes as love anything with citrus and definitely with you on the buying local :) I have never managed to find any blood oranges so envious of your find!

  17. Your little cakes look wonderful! I love the way you have adapted this recipe to something seasonal, and blood oranges have such a beautiful flavour.

  18. I'm sorry Sue, I read your post very early in the morning and realised I got confused when I re-read it! I didn't realise blood oranges were not in season in NZ...but I totally agree that it is perfectly fine to buy something imported from time to time if it is not grown where you are. Even my organic vegetable and fruit box providers do import some things by sea if they don't grow here...hence my confusion as I have some blood oranges in my fridge from a recent delivery!!

  19. I'm totally with you on buying local with the odd exception of imported goods unavailable in NZ (or in my case Australia). Blood oranges are one of my favourite citrus fruits and these cakes sound amazing! Thanks heaps for your entry in Sweet NZ xx


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