As a month, January can get a lot of stick. But I don't really mind it. I like the fresh start it offers after the indulgences of Christmas. I've been focusing on getting early nights into my weekday routine, a few more runs into my week and upping my water consumption, and I think it really helps with keeping those January blues away.
January is also the month that my all-time favourite fruit, blood oranges, starts to appear. That is reason alone to embrace the first month of the year. The lovely team at Abel + Cole sent me some goodies this week, amongst which was a bag of blood oranges. I've been eating them for breakfast on my porridge and with yoghurt and oats as a sweet treat. I also decided to use some for a cake, as they deserve to be celebrated in such a way.
This is my first cake of the year. After Christmas, cake isn't high on my list of foods that I crave, but a simple honest loaf cake with a fresh citrus zing I can entertain with a cup of tea after a day of eating healthy and a seafront run.
Abel + Cole's Sicilian blood oranges are an absolute delight. Their scarlet blushes range from pink speckles to the deepest; there is a surprise with each one you peel. Many of their oranges are grown by Giangiacomo Borghese who has a 85 hectares of citrus trees in beautiful Sicily. His mother, Maria Carla, has been growing oranges, grapefruit and lemons there since 1955. The orange groves on the north side of Giangiacomo and Maria's land look out at Mount Etna. I love having that knowledge and traceability - it makes the cooking and the eating so much more meaningful. It's how it should be.
Blood Orange + Marmalade Cake
200g unsalted butter
200g golden caster sugar
100g wholemeal buckwheat flour
100g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g good quality orange marmalade
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced plus pared zest, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C), and line a 900g loaf tin with nonstick baking paper.
Whisk the butter and sugar together, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Fold in the flours, baking powder and 100g of the marmalade, then the orange juice. Spoon into the tin, then bake for 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack and decorate with the orange and grapefruit slices, and pared zest. Gently warm the remaining 50g of marmalade in a small pan and brush over the cake. Cool, then slice to serve.