"I love this cake because it works as this simple, hearty, afternoon teacake, but also has this element of elegance and romance. It was created as a wedding cake," says Black Star owner Chris Thé.
He wanted a cake to showcase seasonal fruit and originally used slow-cooked quinces for the garnish. When those are out of season, Thé uses plums, sour cherries or dried mulberries.
"Learning to bake with feel is crucial, because the pulped orange can differ greatly from day to day depending on what the oranges are like, or how much water has been boiled off in the process," says the chef.
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Black Star Pastry's Orange Cake with Cream-Cheese Frosting, Iranian Figs and Pistachios:
This recipe makes a 1 x 20cm cake and serves eight.
3 oranges, well washed
125g caster sugar
165g almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 dried Iranian figs, broken into pieces
2 heaped tablespoons sliver pistachios
3 tablespoons dried rose petals
Orangle blossom syrup: 3 tablespoons caster sugar
100ml orange blossom water
Cream cheese frosting: 250g cream cheese
175g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper.
Add the whole oranges to a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour until soft, topping up the water as necessary.
Once the oranges are tender, drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Place the oranges in a food processor and process until smooth. Add a little of the cooking liquid until you achieve a consistency similar to hummus.
Whip the eggs and sugar until you reach ribbon stage - when the whisk is lifted, the batter falls slowly back onto the surface of the mixture in a ribbon-like stream. Fold the orange puree and almond meal into the eggs. Fold in the baking powder and mix thoroughly. Tip the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a palette knife. Bake on the middle shelf for 40-60 minutes until the cake takes on a caramel tone and slowly springs back to shape when gently pressed.
While the cake is baking, prepare the orange blossom syrup. Add the sugar and 100ml of water to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and cool for 5 minutes before adding the orange blossom water.
Once the cake is cooked, transfer to a cooling rack and immediately pour the syrup over the top. Stand until cool.
To prepare the frosting, place the cream cheese in a large bowl and mix on low speed with an electric mixer while slowly adding the icing sugar. Once incorporated, beat on high speed until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes.
Remove the cake tin and spread the frosting over the cake. Randomly arrange the fig pieces over the frosting and sprinkle over the pistachios and rose petals. The cake will keep well for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.