Blood Orange Torte

Blood Orange Torte

Not only is today’s post the 250th post on my site, but it’s also this little blog’s 4th anniversary! Thinking back on it, there really should be a lot more posts, but I was pretty laid back about them back in the day. I’m just totally surprised that I even made it to 4 years!

As much as I love writing this blog, developing the recipes and taking the photos, it is a lot of work and so hard to keep up. I think everyday for the last 4 years, I’ve asked what state of mind was I in that I agreed to do this! And everyday for the last 4 years I’ve thought about giving it all up. Then, of course, that day I will make something that turns out phenomenal and my first thought is, “I need to share this!” So, there you have it. I can’t stop even if I want to.

Blood Orange Torte

And I won’t. I have plans for my little piece of web and slowly but surely, we are getting there. None of this would be possible without the support of all of you, my readers and friends. I am thankful for the friendships I’ve made, the wonderful blogging community, and the home cooks who actually try my recipes! I appreciate every one of you. Thank you for a wonderful 4 years.

So, no rants today, or soul searching questions, just a light post 🙂 I thought maybe I’d share a few random tidbits about myself. I get asked all kinds of questions when I am at work and it’s interesting because I don’t know how to answer them half the time! 

Blood Orange Torte

Last weekend, somebody asked me which cuisine I like the most, or rather if I owned a restaurant, what would I serve? To me, that’s two different questions. There isn’t a cuisine I hate; there is something I enjoy in every cuisine. At home, I make a lot of Indian food, and that maybe because I grew up eating it, it’s comfort food for me. I love it that my husband never complains that we eat so much Indian food! And that’s probably because I also cook a variety of things and cuisines. There’s always something different at our house 🙂

Blood Orange Torte

Would I move back to London if the opportunity arose? I love Colorado; I love living here, I love the scenery, the weather and the people are great too. However, if I was given the opportunity to move back to London, yes. I would go back in a heart beat. For someone who has travelled so much at a young age, moved continents, countries and States more times then I’d like to remember, It’s home to me and always will be. I want my children to know it and love it as well. 

Blood Orange Torte

Having an Indian ancestry but being born in Saudi Arabia, growing up in England and then moving to the US, I find it hard to “belong”. I am not very Indian, my thoughts and ideas and upbringing were all done in England. I know very little about India. When I meet Indian people, I have nothing in common with them and they just don’t understand why! Of course, the younger generation is different but usually Indians of my age, have grown up in India. We think quite differently. Once in a while, I will find that rare person I get along with famously. 

Blood Orange Torte

On the same lines as ancestry and upbringing, one of my most detested questions is “where are you from?” I don’t know how to answer that. When, after thinking a long time (because I know they are looking at my head scarf and my colouring) I say England, I can see their disbelief. Then they say, “you don’t have a British accent” I don’t know what to say to that either. Me having or not having an accent doesn’t discount the fact that I LIVED there and am as British as the next British person, so I don’t know why that question/statement matters. I am bilingual but I can also read and/or write 4 others. Maybe, that’s why my accent isn’t noticeable or is totally warped. 

I am not a fan of smoothies. I think it’s the texture.

I love chocolate straight up. But don’t find all chocolate treats such as cakes, fudges and brownies, etc as enticing.

I love a chocolate malt with french fries for dipping.

I am obsessed with coffee and coffee shops and roasters. I have driven an hour to try a coffee shop that got rave reviews.

I don’t like anything made from coffee, only exception being, tiramisu.

I am also a coffee snob. At work we have very expensive coffee and espresso machines that make fabulous coffee. Unfortunately, they are filled with bulk Starbucks coffee and I refuse to drink that “coffee” (I go to a coffee roasters around the corner to get my fix.)

My dream vacation would be a trip to Europe visiting all the kaffee houses, especially in Hungary and Austria.

I want a food truck.

I want to go to a dinner party where the food is SO good that I’ll think about it when I go home and for years after. I have memories of about 3 or 4 parties from my youth that the food was so memorable, I salivate now when I think about it.

One of my biggest pet peeves at dinner parties, apart from the ones I’ve already complained about, that is, is when the guests love a dish so much that they insist on knowing the recipe, right there and then. It is so hard to not be rude! First off, the hostess is always busy, and we are busy talking with other guests and don’t want you to monopolise the conversation about a recipe. Another thing, what if we don’t want to give out the recipe!! I don’t have a problem with friends asking because I can always talk about it to them later, but on many occasions, I’ve had guests bring other people that I don’t know well and I have literally been harassed all evening over one of my recipes by these new people.

Blood Orange Torte

OK, that’s probably enough because I have a feeling that my pet peeves would over whelm this post! I’ll just say that I have a problem with stupid people and everything they bring with them 🙂

Today’s celebratory creation is a very simple one, and is doubling as a Valentine’s Day treat. Lately, I find myself wanting less fussiness and more simplicity. I want rustic and sophistication blended together, a rustic sophistication. I almost just made a pie, because that’s what I was craving but I had bought these beautiful blood oranges and wanted to use them while they were in season.

I happened to be reading one of my favourite European baking books, Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers and came across an orange torte that sounded delicious and simple. Though it’s a bit fussy in its preparation, it’s really quite a basic cake or torte, actually. I changed a few things, mainly the citrus but I also made a smaller cake. We find it hard to finish huge cakes, especially when I’m experimenting all the time.

This is the perfect torte to show off blood oranges. The torte is moist and the flavour of the blood oranges shines through, bright and sunny. The curd filling is not overpowering but light and fruity, thanks to some whipped cream in there.

Blood Orange Curd

The candied blood oranges used as garnish are easy to make and look beautiful on the cake. They taste great too, if you like candied peel.

I left the cake in a natural state. At high altitude, baking cakes is a tricky business. Our cakes never come out the same way twice. This torte probably will be level at sea level but at my 5500 feet, it really sank in the middle! My fault, I didn’t watch the egg whites and beat them too stiff, and so the end result was a cake with a sunken middle. At first, I was bothered by it, but after it cooled, I saw it was actually really beautiful, my rustic sophistication.

The blood orange torte is filled inside and I put a thin layer as icing all over. Decorate with the candied orange and for my celebratory cake, I added some flowers and candles 🙂

Make this! It is delicious, even if it deflates on you. Your special someone will adore it, especially if they are a citrus lover.

Blood Orange Torte

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6-8 pieces

An almond torte filled and iced with a blood orange curs.
Ingredients
  • TORTE
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup/115g ground almonds
  • 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cups/135g sugar
  • Grated zest of ½ blood orange
  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • BLOOD ORANGE CURD
  • ¾ cup/150g sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 blood orange
  • ½ cup/118ml fresh blood orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons/55g unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • ½ cup/118ml heavy whipping cream
  • CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
  • 1 blood orange, sliced very thinly
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup/175ml water
Instructions
  1. TORTE
  2. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  3. Lightly butter a 7 inch/18cm springform pan and line the bottom with a parchment round.
  4. Dust the sides and bottom with some breadcrumbs.
  5. Tap out the excess crumbs and set pan aside.
  6. In a food processor, add the ground almonds and bread crumbs and process till finely ground, almost to a powder. Set aside.
  7. Beat the yolks and a ¼ cup the sugar in a medium bowl with a hand mixer until thick and pale.
  8. About 4 minutes and then beat in the blood orange zest and juice.
  9. Using clean beaters or a stand mixer, add thee egg whites and beat until soft peaks form.
  10. Add the remaining sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form and are shiny.
  11. Fold about ¼ of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the mixture,
  12. Add in the almond-breadcrumb mixture and fold in.
  13. Add the rest of the egg whites, folding in until batter is combined.
  14. Spread evenly into the pan.
  15. It will fill up the pan almost to the top.
  16. Bake until the centre is springy and firm, about 35 minutes.
  17. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
  18. Run a knife around the edges and loosen the cake.
  19. Remove the cake carefully by removing the sides of the pan.
  20. Remove the cake from the bottom cake plate and peel off the paper.
  21. Place on a rack until completely cooled.
  22. BLOOD ORANGE CURD
  23. Whisk the sugar, blood orange zest and juice, lemon juice, butter, egg yolks and corn starch together in a medium pan.
  24. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full boil .
  25. Let stand and cool completely.
  26. Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge to cool.
  27. If you want to assemble the torte the same day, cool the curd by pouring it into a bowl that's been placed in a larger bowl of ice.
  28. Stir occasionally to cool.
  29. This will make more curd than is needed, but it can be kept to use on toast or scones.
  30. When it's time to assemble the torte, whip the heavy cream till nice and stiff.
  31. Beat until quite stiff since the curd will thin it out.
  32. Add ½ cup of the blood orange curd and beat until mixed.
  33. Slice the cake in half or thirds if possible.
  34. Carefully separate the layers.
  35. Add some blood orange curd as a filling, about ¼ cup or so.
  36. If you were able to cut into thirds, fill with more curd in the second layer.
  37. With the remaining bit of curd icing, spread it all around the cake, if desired.
  38. I like the rustic, somewhat naked look of the cake.
  39. Top with fresh blood oranges or candied blood oranges.
  40. CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
  41. Place the water and sugar into a medium pan and bring to a boil.
  42. Once the sugar is all dissolved, add the blood oranges into the simple syrup.
  43. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer the oranges until they are soft.
  44. It will take about 45-50 minutes.
  45. Remove the blood oranges and cool on rack until cooled and dried.
  46. They make take a day or two to dry so plan ahead if you are using these.

Once again, thank you for your friendship and support and for reading my ravings for 4 years!

Here’s to many more…

 

Nazneen xx

Sachertorte for Valentine’s Day

sachertorte

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope you are all having a great day and have been showered with flowers, gifts, chocolates and most importantly, love and affection!

I am excited for today, not because of Valentine’s but because I have a birthday party to go to today for a very special, little boy who is turning one. Happy Birthday, Ismail! February 14th in my house is like any other day. My husband and I avoid dining out on this night and prefer to hang out at home with our children and enjoy a home cooked meal. Today, we will enjoy birthday cake and party hats!

In fact, the one and only time we went out to dinner, was at some fancy schmancy French restaurant, many years ago. However, the food was way sub par, especially considering what they expected us to pay for it. I remember clearly, it was a prix fixe at $70 a head. For the starter I chose a vegetable tart, and it came out very pretty looking but was burnt at the bottom. How do you burn a tart?? After that experience we started staying in.

Like I said, February 14th is like any other day at our house. What I mean is that at home, everyday is Valentine’s Day. Not in the sense of chocolates and gifts and such, but life. For me it’s the everyday things that are special; it’s the coffee my husband brings to me every morning because he knows how stiff I am in the mornings from my RA, it’s how he works 10 hour days and still comes home and loads or unloads the dishwasher and how he reaches over and holds my hand when we are driving. This is my everyday and I am so lucky. 

My husband is a dessert lover and one cake we thoroughly enjoy is a Sachertorte. It’s not like we’ve been to Austria to try the authentic one, not yet, anyway, but we’ve had replicas and I’ve made it before. I love European cakes and tortes, and their desserts in general, having grown up eating them.

One of the cookbooks I was thrilled to receive is one by Rick Rodgers on Kaffeehaus desserts of Hungary and Austria. My dream is one day to visit the coffee houses he writes about and make my way through their extensive dessert menus. The book contains some excellent, authentic recipes for tortes and various other Austro-Hungarian desserts. He gives fascinating history and details about their origins and which restaurants stake claim to them. 

European cakes are not as sweet as their American counterparts. However, they are rich and intensely flavoured and go perfectly with coffee. This is not the easiest of cakes to make but it’s not the hardest either and well worth the effort. This particular recipe is from Rick Rodger’s cookbook Kaffeehaus, slightly adapted.

sachertorte

 

Sachertorte for Valentine’s Day

Serving size: 12-16 servings

Ingredients
Torte
  • 41/2oz/128g high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chips)
  • 9 tablespoons/127g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup/115g powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup/119g granulated sugar
  • 1 cup/128g plain/all purpose flour (spoon and level)
Apricot Glaze
  • 11/4 cups/296mL apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water
Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 cup/235g sugar
  • ½cup/118mL water
  • 6 oz113g bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
Instructions
Apricot Glaze
  1. Bring the preserves and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often.
  2. Cook stirring often till sticky, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl and keep aside.
  4. Use warm.
Torte
  1. Position rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 400℉/200℃
  2. Lightly grease with non stick spray a 9"/24cm springform/loose bottom pan.
  3. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. Dust the sides of the pan lightly with flour and tap out excess.
  5. Melt chocolate in the microwave in a bowl at 30 second intervals. Will take about a minute or so.
  6. Stir after each 30 seconds and let the warm bowl help in melting the remainder.
  7. Stir till all melted and leave to cool.
  8. Beat butter in bowl of mixer using a paddle attachment on medium high till smooth, about a minute.
  9. On low speed, add in the powdered sugar.
  10. Return to medium high speed and beat till light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add one egg yolk at a time, beating well after each one.
  12. Scrape down sides of bowl and ensure batter is well mixed.
  13. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla.
  14. In a different mixer bowl or using a handheld mixer
  15. Beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until soft, shiny peaks form.
  16. Don't over beat.
  17. Stir about one fourth of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it and fold in the rest gently.
  18. Little wisps of white are fine, don't over mix.
  19. Sift half of the flour over and fold in and then repeat with the remaining flour.
  20. Spread evenly in pan.
  21. Bake until a toothpick instead in the centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  22. The cake will dome in the centre.
  23. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  24. Remove the sides of the pan and invert cake onto rack and then right side up.
  25. Cool completely.
To Assemble
  1. Using a long serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to make it level.
  2. Cut the cake horizontally in two equal layers.
  3. An 8" cake board will really help with transferring cake after glazes have been applied.
  4. Brush top layer of the cake with the apricot glaze and then place the top layer and glaze all-around.
  5. This cake will have holes. If some are really big, just take some trimmings from the cake top and fill the holes with some glaze, like a paste, and patch up the holes.
  6. Let the glaze set on the cake.
  7. Make sure the cake is on a wire rack.
Chocolate Glaze
  1. Must be freshly made in a small pan. Too big and it will burn before it gets a chance to thicken.
  2. Put the chocolate, water and sugar in a small pan over medium high heat and boil.
  3. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring until the mixture reaches 234℉, about 5 minutes.
  5. DO NOT overcook. It will turn to candy and be a hard shell instead of a glaze.
  6. Pour the warm glaze over the cake and let drizzle down side.
  7. Use a spatula to coat the cake completely.
  8. Cool until glaze is barely set, transfer to serving plate and then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Remove cake an hour before serving.
  10. To serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.
  11. Serve with whipped cream.

sachertorte

sachertorte

Wishing you a wonderful, sweet, romantic Valentine’s Day!