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Mike McEnearney's blood orange cake

A go-to cake recipe during citrus season.

By Mike McEnearney
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 10 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 12
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Blood orange cake
"This is my go-to recipe for citrus cakes," says McEnearney. "It's so versatile: the spices can be changed to cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to give it a wonderful Middle Eastern flavour, or you can simply use vanilla; the almond meal can be replaced with ground pistachios; and the orange cake can be served warm or at room temperature."


  • 215 gm softened butter
  • 215 gm caster sugar
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 4 blood oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 250 gm fine semolina
  • 155 gm almond meal
  • 100 gm polenta
  • To serve: crème fraîche
Blood orange syrup
  • 375 gm caster sugar
  • 3 unpeeled blood oranges, thickly sliced into rounds, seeds reserved
  • 2 unpeeled lemons, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds reserved
  • 2 cinnamon quills
Blood oranges in caramel
  • 5 blood oranges
  • 330 gm caster sugar (1½ cups)
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup


  • 1
    For blood orange syrup, stir ingredients (including seeds) and 250ml water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the simmer and cook until a light syrup forms (50-60 minutes). Pass through a fine sieve, pressing on solids to extract all liquid, transfer half to a container and refrigerate until set (1½-2 hours; the syrup will turn into a soft jelly). Set remaining syrup aside in pan.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter, sugar and blood orange rind in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (8-10 minutes), then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add baking powder, half the semolina, half the almond meal, half the polenta and half the blood orange juice and mix to just combine. Add remaining semolina, almond meal, polenta and blood orange juice and mix to just combine. Spoon into a 22cm-diameter cake tin buttered and lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 150C and bake until cake is golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (25-30 minutes). Pierce cake all over with a skewer, then gradually pour reserved blood orange syrup over (re-warm syrup if it has become too thick), allowing syrup to soak into cake before adding more. Cool completely in tin (1-2 hours).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for blood oranges in caramel, remove orange rind with a zester and set aside. Trim ends of oranges with a small sharp knife and remove pith (discard). Working over a jug to catch juice, cut segments from oranges between membrane, then squeeze remaining juice from membrane (discard membrane). You'll need 125ml juice; if you don't have enough, top up with water. Set juice aside in jug and reserve segments in a heatproof bowl. Stir orange zest, sugar, corn syrup and 250ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the simmer and cook until a crimson-coloured caramel forms (40-45 minutes). Add a pinch of salt, 125ml reserved juice and 80ml water (be careful, hot caramel will spit). Swirl to combine then pour over orange segments and refrigerate until cooled completely (30 minutes).
  • 4
    Spoon some of the blood oranges in caramel over cake and serve with chilled blood orange syrup, crème fraîche and remaining blood oranges in caramel.


This recipe is from the October 2012 issue of .