As it drags its weary, broke, drizzly self to a close, you can see why most holidays are sold during this most dismal of long, long months. Warm seas, golden beaches, temperatures in the twenties... Pass me last year's sunscreen, a few Euros and my passport; I've a flight to catch.
Even my standard tried-n-tested January defence (hibernating under the duvet with a family sized bag of Maltesers and a good book) stands absolutely no chance against a glossy travel agent's brochure advertising "...sparkling blue seas, never ending sunshine and a staggeringly beautiful coastline" (genuine quote!).
I needed to make a cake equivalent. And my sugarcraft skills are most certainly not up to a direct replica of the latest Thomas Cook publication.
That's where these blood oranges come in. This tart orange with its distinctive, bright, crimson flesh brings a little of the Mediterranean to the kitchen at the sharp end of winter. Piercing the thick skin is a delight as the hidden vibrant, fiery flesh is revealed. And when presented in an Upside Down Cake each caramelised slice of orange practically resembles a golden sun. I just need a glass of sangria and my sunglasses.
Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
For the Oranges:
2 medium blood oranges, sliced thinly
200g castor sugar
1 vanilla pod
For the cake:
200g caster sugar
4 beaten eggs
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
150g plain flour
Tbsp or two of milk, if needed
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas Mark 4. Thoroughly grease a 23cm round springform cake tin.
2. Prepare the oranges: place the orange slices, sugar, water and the vanilla pod in a large saucepan and simmer for ten-fifteen minutes until the oranges softened. Place at the bottom of the cake tin, overlapping the slices
3. For the cake: Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs mixture. Fold in the ground almonds, baking powder and flour, adding a tbsp or two of milk to loosen the mixture if needed.
4. Spread the cake mixture over the oranges and bake for 40 minutes or until a cakes skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes in the tin before carefully inverting the cake onto a plate.
- Not the season for blood oranges? Any orange will do!
- It is worth placing the cake tin on a baking tray when placing in the oven to avoid any juices spilling onto the floor of the oven and an entire afternoon clearing it up
- With thanks to OXO UK who sent me a very clever angled measuring jug and oven thermometer way back at the very beginning of the winter to try out, both of which have proven invaluable to my baking ever since. Afterall, baking is a science requiring accurate measurements and temperatures as much as it is a scrumptious treat to banish the winter blues