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Dark Chocolate and Bitter Orange Cake: A Grown Up Tea Time Treat

The combination of dark chocolate and tangy orange flavours make this cake a sure fire winner. It's easy to make, dress it up or down to suit the occasion.

There's something about dark chocolate – the thin sort in the fancy wrapping paper which oozes sophistication but is also quite moreish. These days, the newspapers seem to be full of medical reports extolling the health benefits of chocolate – woohoo!

This recipe is packed with dark chocolate and therefore (probably) health benefits. If you whisk the chocolate sponge by hand, you will certainly work off a few calories as well as making a lighter more delicious cake, so go for it. It's the perfect end to an afternoon tea, or if you use double cream for the filling, a very impressive dessert.

Whisked Chocolate Sponge Cake Recipe: Ingredients

  • 5 medium sized eggs
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • tsp of grated orange rind
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • One and a half ounces of melted butter
  • Pinch of Salt
  • For the filling:
  • About 10oz of creme fraiche or a small carton of double cream
  • Half a jar of good orange marmalade
  • For the chocolate ganache icing:
  • 4oz dark chocolate
  • 4 oz double cream
  • A little grated chocolate

Dark Chocolate and Bitter Orange Cake: Method

Break the eggs into a large heatproof bowl and add the sugar. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan of hot water and whisk the eggs and sugar together for at least five minutes until they have more than doubled in bulk and resemble a pale golden mousse (see the illustration below).

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled. The whisk should leave a ribbon trail in the mixture when you lift it up (see illustration).

Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in half the sifted flour and cocoa powder mixture, add half the cooled melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture and the rest of the butter. Fold the mixture through gently but thoroughly until all the ingredients are amalgamated.

Pour the mixture into a lined spring clip cake tin (8" in diameter). It's best to have brushed the greaseproof paper or tin foil used for lining with butter and dusted it with flour and caster sugar in advance.

Bake for about half an hour at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F, Gas Mark 4) or until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and the edges are coming away slightly from the cake tin.

Allow to cool thoroughly before filling and icing.

To Fill and Ice

When the cake is quite cool, slice it in half through the middle with a sharp knife. Spread the creme fraiche or whipped double cream onto one half and the orange marmalade on the other. Sandwich the two halves together.

To make the chocolate ganache icing, melt the dark chocolate and double cream over a low heat. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and whip the mixture whilst it cools. When it begins to hold its shape, it's ready to use.

Spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake and decorate with finely grated chocolate.

I've also used orange spun sugar in my version (boil the juice and rind of one orange, two tablespoonsful of water and two tablespoonsful of sugar in a saucepan until thick and syrupy, then working quickly and carefully, make a sugar lattice over the surface of the cake before adding the grated chocolate).

There's no need to do this, but if you decide to experiment, be very careful when working with hot sugar – it's a really dangerous substance and can give horrible burns!