Honey Orange Loaf Cake

I had an extraordinarily bad working day today. I couldn’t sleep last night (lying awake stressing over things beyond my control which were resolved via email early this morning anyway) and consequently I didn’t get up until after 10am. Then it sort of seemed pointless to do any actual work before lunch so I had my usual two coffees and browsed the web for a few hours, looking at Time’s important blogs (or some such) and reading the newspapers online. After lunch I did manage, after super amounts of procrastination, to type up a few more pages of field notes but by then it had become apparent that the only thing to do this afternoon was make orange cake – a bright yellow/orange tribute to the sun to combat the severe grey fogginess outside my window which appears to have settled in until spring. I spent more time trying to find a recipe. In my mind I wanted a pound cake that could incorporate buttermilk and honey. But nowhere I looked provided me with anything even remotely in that vein. I realise pound cakes are supposed to be equal amounts flour, butter and sugar but none of the recipes I looked at appeared to be adaptable to the idea in my head. I was slightly obsessive about the addition of buttermilk in particular, mainly because I managed to locate some (finally!) when I was grocery shopping last week.

I finally gave up on the cook books in my house and ventured onto the web. After looking at all my regular blogs I finally located a recipe on Smitten Kitchen that I figured I could adapt to do the job. It did feel like a bit of a mission but I think this recipe is a keeper. I’ve already had three slices today and am seriously contemplating another. The cake is moist but crumbly with an intense hit of orange. It’s nicely buttery but not cloying. I think it was worth the procrastination if I can produce cake like this. I mean, if all else fails, I will still have this recipe for orange cake.

I halved the recipe on Smitten Kitchen as hers makes two loaf cakes and I only wanted (had enough eggs for) one. I also decreased the amount of sugar in order to add in the honey. And made the recipe with an orange, not lemons. And I used ever so slightly more butter.

Honey Orange Loaf Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
125g butter, unsalted, out of the fridge for half an hour
3/4 cup golden granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp baking powder
juice and zest of one orange
90ml lemon juice
1 large, well-rounded tablespoon set honey

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a loaf tin with some butter.
Cream together the butter and sugar until bright white and fluffy. This takes about five minutes but helps with the aeration of the cake.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. The mixture may split on you but don’t worry, it’ll all come back together in a minute.

Place the flour, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl and set aside. Zest the orange and squeeze the juice into the same bowl.* Add in the buttermilk and honey.

Add the flour in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. I folded this all in by hand, rather than mixing it with a beater – mainly because my beater has only one speed and things tend to end up more out of the bowl than in…
Scoop the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted comes out clean and the top springs back.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely. I like to eat it still slightly warm but it’ll keep in an airtight container for a few days.

* When I was making this I thought it might be an orange/cardamom flavour so I infused some cardamom seeds into the orange juice and zest. I also tried to grind some. The grinding was a total failure and the infusion didn’t really work hence the abandonment of all cardamom related flavours in the recipe.