Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
200g (7oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
300g (11oz) caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
200g (7oz) ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
100g (31/2 oz) plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the Syrup
Juice of 2 oranges
100g (31/2 oz) caster sugar
For the Icing
75g (3oz) butter, softened
100g (31/2 oz) dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces
1 tblsp orange liqueur or orange juice
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F), Gas mark 3, then butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in a large bowl and beat together until soft and creamy.
Add half the ground almonds and continue to mix, then add the eggs, a little at a time, making sure they’re well mixed in. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and add the rest of the almonds, folding these in until combined.
Tip the cake batter into the prepared tin, spreading it out and levelling the top with a spatula or palette knife. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with just a small amount of moisture sticking to it.
While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Place the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan. Stir until mixed and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for just 1 minute, then remove from the heat and set aside.
When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for just 5 minutes. Loosening around the edges using a small, sharp knife, carefully remove the cake from the tin and transfer to a serving plate. Straight away pour the hot syrup over the cake (reheating the syrup if it has had a chance to cool down) and leave to cool completely while soaking up the syrup.
To make the icing, place the butter in a heatproof bowl with the chocolate and orange liqueur or orange juice and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave just until melted, stirring occasionally, then pour the icing over the cake. (This is a wet icing so don’t worry if it drips down the sides of the cake.)
Let the icing set and then decorate with pieces of crystallised orange peel, if you wish.