My watch says it is going on six o'clock. Katie Melua's Pandora station is crooning to me in this quiet apartment. It's a lovely evening.
And if I stay inside pretending the sunshine giving a glow to branches and rooftops is as warming to the earth as my soul, it becomes even lovelier. Especially with the empty plate next to me. Scraped lines of crème fraîche and orange nutty crumbs are all that remain of a delicious orange cake.
Let me tell you about this cake. It is perhaps the most unusual recipe I have ever made, but when I stumbled upon it on Nigella's website I jotted down "oranges" on my grocery list.
However, I have the horrible habit of grazing over recipe directions until I am actually standing in the kitchen with ingredients spread before me. So, there I was Saturday afternoon with an orange in each hand, surprised to learn that I was supposed to plop them in a large pot of water to boil for two hours. Really? Whole oranges?
Shrugging my shoulders I obediently followed Nigella's prompting and returned to my bedroom to study.
Two hours later I had a pot of very yellow water and whole oranges that looked almost exactly like they had before. But as I picked up on the recipe, which now required the simplest of steps, a beautiful batter came together.
After I put it in the oven I finally began to get excited. For, as I was turning on the faucet to rinse out the mixing bowl, I decided to swipe a finger along the bowl's rim, and what I tasted was sweet and honest. Real citrus. Nibbly almonds.
I've been sharing the cake around since and it's still getting compliments. Tomorrow will likely be its last day of glory, but I know the recipe won't stay neglected for too long. Whether with afternoon tea or at a special dinner, there are too many occasions for cake out there. There are also too many citrus fruits out there secretly desiring to be dunked in a pot and minced into a proper pudding. (There. That word was my ode to Nigella, to Oxford, and to all things British/Kiwi that I love.)
Now go. Bake. Eat with those you love.
Orange Cake Recipe
by Nigella Lawson
Go here for a more detailed description of the recipe.