So we reached the end of another series of the Great British Bake Off, and although I was very much Team Richard, I have to say that Nancy was certainly the most impressive in the final- if constructing an edible, moving windmill isn't enough to win then I don't know what is!
Each week I've tried to bake something that's appeared on the show, but this week I decided to go completely away from their bakes- if you read my Baking Bloopers post you'll know that choux pastry is not my friend at the moment, so the thought of a showstopper crouqembouche was not a pleasant one! Instead I got out my copy of Cake by Rachel Allen and flicked through in search of something gluten free and worthy of the GBBO Final. This is an adaptation of her Chocolate, Almond and Rum cake.
I swapped the rum for orange and this tastes like a cake version of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. It's made with ground almonds rather than flour, plus a bit of creme fraiche to keep it moist, so it's got a much denser consistency than a sponge cake, rather more like a torte. It's incredibly chocolately but using dark chocolate stops it from being too sickly sweet. Rachel Allen describes her version as elegant and sophisticated, and I'm going to agree with her on that!
Seeing as this was GBBO Final night, I decided I might as well go all out when it came to presentation on this cake, and rather than just the chocolate glaze in the original recipe, I decided to add a bit of white chocolate piping and some candied orange slices. Usually I like to think I'm a pretty modest person, but I can't help telling you how proud I am of myself for producing this- and you might as well pull off the best cake of your life on the final week! I don't have a great track record with gluten free cakes- I tend to massively undercook them- but I was patient with this one and didn't panic when it came out the oven with a very clearly undercooked centre. I popped a bit of tinfoil over it and left it for a good hour before icing it.
I tweeted a picture of this cake on the night and fulfilled my life goal of getting a retweet from @BritishBakeOff, which resulted in my phone going non-stop with notifications- I've never felt so special! So for anyone who'd like to give this a try, I'm sharing the recipe here:
Recipe for Chocolate, Almond & Orange Cake
For the cake:
225g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
225g ground almonds
250g golden caster sugar
150g softened butter (plus extra for greasing)
2tbsp crème fraiche
For the glaze and decoration:
75ml double cream
125g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
50g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
50g caster sugar + 2tbsp for sprinkling
A 20cm diameter spring-form cake tin
To make the cake:
1. Grease the sides of your cake tin and line the bottom with a circle of baking paper. Prepare the ingredients for the cake, then preheat the oven to 170°c.
2. Melt the dark chocolate in a pan over a saucepan of simmering water then set aside to cool.
3. Put the almonds, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon until everything is evenly mixed and there are no lumps. (You could use a food processor, but I don't have one).
4. Beat the eggs in a clean bowl, then add to the almond mixture and stir in will. Add the zest from the orange, the crème fraiche and the melted chocolate, then mix everything together. I used a handheld mixer to finish this off- it only needs a few seconds and will become thick and mousse-like.
5. Put the cake mixture into the tin and cook for 35-40 minutes. It will puff up to the top of the tin and the top will start to look cracked. As I said, getting the centre of gluten free cakes to cook fully can be quite tricky so it might take slightly longer depending on your oven.
6. Take the cake out of the oven and cool in the tin for 20 to 30 minutes. If the centre looks a bit runny still, cover with a bit of tin foil and wait an extra 10-15 minutes. Use a sharp knife to loosen it from the edges if necessary, then transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, turn upside down onto a serving plate so that you have a smooth top to glaze.
To make the candied oranges:
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Slice an orange into slices of about 5mm thick and cut them in half. Add the rest of the caster sugar to a large saucepan, then pour in 125ml of water and bring to the boil. Add the orange slices and carrying on boiling for 5 minutes- you may need to turn over the slices during this time. Turn down the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes, turning the slices occasionally. When they start to go see-through but are still soft, take them out and lay them on the sugar baking paper. Let them cool fully, then sprinkle another tablespoon of caster sugar over them.
To make the chocolate glaze:
You can make the chocolate glaze while the cake cooks, but I think it's best to do it just before you ice the cake so you don't have to reheat the mix. Pour the cream into a saucepan, taking it off the heat when it reaches the boil. Add the dark chocolate. You could also add a couple of tablespoonfuls of orange juice from the orange you used the zest from in the cake. Everything should come together to form a stiff, shiny mixture. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Use a knife or spatula to spread an even layer of the chocolate glaze on the top of the cake. Pipe a spiral of white chocolate on top. I used a square of baking paper to make a piping bag. Take a cocktail stick and drag from the centre of the cake outwards to create the pattern. Finally add the orange slices.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but actually this isn't a complicated cake! There's no need to rush any of it- the cake needs time to cool down, and melted chocolate will stay molten for a while, plus you can always reheat it. Let me know if you attempt this cake, I'd love to know what you think of the flavour!