For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, mandarin oranges and tangerines are commonplace during Chinese New Year because they are traditionally considered to be symbols of abundance and good fortune. As such, they are a ‘must have’ item during the two-week celebration and are often displayed as decoration or presented to others as gifts. Now, thanks to the abundance of mandarin oranges at home during this Chinese New Year period, I took it upon myself to use a couple of them for this lovely loaf cake.
Who doesn’t like the orange and poppy seed combination? I think poppy seeds make a wonderful addition to cakes. They stand out fantastically in a light crumb, grace your cakes with a subtle nutty flavour, and a leave you wanting more thanks to their characteristic pop-in-your-mouth crunch. Pair these tiny seeds with some orange zest and voilà, you now have a couple of wonderful ingredients to make a visually impressive cake!
Spiced with some cinnamon and nutmeg, glazed with a lovely lemon icing, this orange and poppy seed cake is a classic. Usually seen in muffin form, I decided to make a loaf cake instead. And instead of butter, this cake uses a combination of oil and condensed milk to create an exceptionally moist and tender crumb. In fact, this cake is guaranteed to stay soft and moist even a few days after its baked.
Finally, a tangy, citrusy glaze makes the perfect accessory to this cake. Fresh lemon juice is mixed with powdered sugar to form a sweet, shiny, sticky, puckery concoction that complements the sweetness of the cake in all the right ways. A light sprinkle of grated orange peel over the top garnishes the cake quite nicely and gives a slight bitter edge to each sweet-sour bite.
This cake goes very well with a cup of strong black tea. And because of how powerful its flavour is, it would be good to start off with a small slice before you decide how much you can handle in one sitting. If you do, however, enjoy the tang of citrusy fruits and simply can’t get enough of lemons and oranges, have the entire loaf by all means! It is a beautiful and starkly refreshing cake.
Spiced Orange & Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Zest of one orange
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup condensed milk
Juice of one orange
1 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Some orange zest, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 175°C and liberally grease a medium-sized loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, combine sugar, condensed milk, oil, egg and orange juice thoroughly until smooth.
- Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until ingredients are just combined.
- Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven and let stand in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the citrus glaze, mix icing sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl, place in microwave and heat for 20 seconds. Continue to stir mixture until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool, then pour over cake. Lightly sprinkle orange zest over the top.