Orange and Honey Rose Cake (gluten and sugar free)

 Gluten and Refined Sugar Free
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 This morning we woke up before the sun rose. We got dressed in the dark and for a moment I climbed back in to bed, still so warm. Together we made toast, got in the car and drove to the markets. We beat the banana truck and the shallots truck there, and while waiting for the doors to open, watched trolleys lift the bulging trays and wheel the boxes in to the stands. Inside the smell of fresh coriander and cut vegetables was overpowering, as trays of water-flecked greens were pulled out and displayed in their crates. 

We walked slowly from store to store, pulling out a few dollars at each for bundles of sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, spinach, herbs, bananas and apples. I wanted to buy a whole tray of mangoes. Already blushed and ripe, they rested next to great piles of red and purple grapes impossible not to pick at. 

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 Coming home with boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, I wanted to make a cake that would taste as summery and light as all the fruit at the markets. The front garden has slowly filled with roses over the last few weeks and they are just beginning to drop their petals, so that when I went to grab some blossoms they showered down into my hands before I could cut their stalks. It envisaged a softly sweet, zesty cake decorated with their petals. Rose petals are good for decorating cakes, because they don’t leave a flavour or stain on the icing. They can be sugared and turned into a real edible decoration, or they can be left like they are here, purely for visual impact. 

The cake is adapted from the classic Claudia Roden orange cake, but with honey instead of sugar. It’s layered with yogurt kissed with a drop or two of rose water and topped with fresh petals. The cake itself is cool and light, despite being made entirely with almond meal. It smells gently of orange zest and the rose adds the subtlest floral flavour that is almost intangible. Rose water has a tendency to make or break a cake depending on how much you add, so if in doubt, use less instead of more. 

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 This orange cake is such a versatile recipe that turns out so differently from flour-based orange cakes. I’ve adapted it before to make chocolate orange cupcakes that turned out really good! And it worked perfectly here again with the yogurt topping. I love using yogurt as a topping because it tastes just as rich and creamy as cream cheese without any of the heaviness. I flavoured it with rose, but I’ve made it with cinnamon and vanilla before, both of which could taste nice here. 

Alternatively leave out the yogurt topping and bake the cake as one big cake in a 23cm tin. It lasts well in the fridge and stays moist for a really long time. I don’t really have anything else to say today, because I’ve had four hours sleep and besides, I’m about to go get gelato…so try the cake! And tell me any variations you try.
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IMG_6992 Orange and Honey Rose Cake: Adapted from Claudia Roden

250g (scant 3 cups) almond meal

250g (3/4 cup) honey

6 eggs, gently whisked

2 oranges

450g (1 pound) labneh, recipes follows

30ml (2 tbsp) honey

3 drops rose water (optional)

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To make the labneh, suspend the yogurt in a tied tea-towel over a sieve which is set over a bowl. Tie up the tea-towel in a bundle and put the whole set-up in the fridge for a few hours, up to 5 and at least 3. Boil the oranges in simmering water for 1-2 hours, until completely soft. Preheat the oven to 180 C (360F) and line two 20cm (8 inch) baking pans with paper. Blend the eggs, almond meal, cut up oranges, and honey until smooth. Pour into the tins and bake for 25 mins, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool completely, then top with the yogurt and sandwich the layers together. Serves 8-10. 

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Fudgy Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (vegan, gluten and sugar free)

Vegan, gluten and refined sugar free

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 People, it’s started. 

Mango season has officially arrived. 

People always wonder what Australia’s national food is. Some say meat pies, which doesn’t really work because meat pies are from England and are just as popular in their football matches and sports weekends. Some say sausages on the barbie, again not a very good fit because according to the interweb Americans are the king of the barbecue! Others even suggest pavlova! Which is controversial because (it was actually New Zealand who invented the pavlova…shhh). So I’m taking it upon myself to announce the new Australian icon. The new national delicacy: mangoes. 

Australian mangoes, in season from late september to mid-February, are the best tasting fruit in the country. During summer we live and breathe mangoes as a dietary staple. For the rest of the year people dreamily talk of summer, sighing “mangoes”! As the pinnacle of Christmas holidays. Every picnic and dining table in the country will probably have a few mango halves cut in the classic hedgehog style come Christmas day. I’ve had mangoes overseas, and they’re ok. Especially in India and Thailand. They were actually really good. But they didn’t have that magic quality and smoothness of Australian mangoes. 

I’m a bit obsessed with mangoes. (If you saw inside my mind right now there would be a little circus monkey clapping symbols yelling mangomangomangomangomango) Last summer I ate so many I got really sick and thought I was dying of a rare disease. The doctor prescribed no more mangoes. I bargained with her three a day. She said no mangoes. I said two a day. She said no more mangoes. I said just one a day…She said no. I said ok. I broke my promises. 

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 This year, in a determined attempt to NOT eat so many mangoes that my stomach hates me, I had to come up with a dessert that was just as sweet and delicious and just as healthy. So these fudgy chocolate marmalade cupcakes were born! I’ve made apple and cinnamon cupcakes for the blog before, but never chocolate ones. So it was about time! The idea started out with an amazing new cookbook I’ve been reading recently, called Three Blue Ducks. If you live in Sydney you would have heard of the cafe, located at Bronte beach and focused on locally sourced, organic and home-grown produce. 

Last weekend I played with their orange marmalade recipe because we had a cheeky three kilograms of leftover oranges that just weren’t going to all be eaten. Such a simple and accessible recipe! I made a cinnamon version and only made eight jars instead of around eleven or twelve, and it turned out perfectly and so delicious. I wanted to pair it with chocolate and also continue the jaffa theme, and that’s where these boiled orange almond cupcakes come in. I’ve made the Claudia Roden famous boiled orange cake before and loved it, and when I saw on Petite Kitchen that she’d made a honey chocolate version, I had to make these cupcakes happen.

Topped with a creamy vegan chocolate icing I found here, that I literally licked out of the bowl, these little cakes are easily the most delicious orange chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. 
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I was worried using chia eggs in place of hens eggs would affect the recipe too much, as it originally called for five eggs. However in this small setting, the dense, fudgy texture couldn’t have turned out better. The cakes didn’t rise much so don’t be scared to fill them right up! Also the marmalade in the centre is totally optional. The recipe uses sugar so the title is really referring to the cakes themselves. Other filling ideas could include a small scoop of the icing, a cherry, some raspberries or any berry filling, a macadamia or walnut, or just keep them plain old jane. 

Also, exciting news, from now on I’m going to post all recipes in metric as well as cups and tablespoons, because most of my readers are American anyway! I’m a big advocator for gram and mil measurements because they’re way more reliable and easy to increase or decrease, but I also want to make the recipes easy for everyone to follow. I’ve gone back and added the measurements to the last few posts but it will probably take me a while to do all of them. That’s if I can even be bothered to do any of them 🙂 

I’ve been doing a lot of clean-up work on the blog recently and have been trying to work out a clear direction that I want to take it in. At the moment there’s a big focus on clean eating and gluten free, vegan recipes, but I don’t want to strictly stick to that now and then regret it in a months time when I make a towering chocolate fudge mountain cake built on a foundation of eggs and whipped cream. Ok that’s not really something I plan on doing, but you get what I mean. 

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Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainable eating and farming, and it’s made me decide I can’t really justify eating fish anymore. I haven’t eaten other meat for almost four years now, but the rule was originally that I had to eat fish as long as I lived at home for my studies and convenience with cooking. Reaching the age where I’m more independent now, both in my life and in my cooking, I’ve been making an effort to only eat sustainable fish and avoid canned tuna and other obvious choices. 

It’s a tricky dilemma! Fish is so packed full of vitamins and healthy fats it’s really hard to remove from your diet without feeling the effects of it. Last month I eliminated almost all fish and ate heaps of legumes and tofu as a replacement, and my energy levels weren’t affected. So maybe it is possible. I don’t know. A large population of people go their entire lives living off no fish at all so I’m sure it’s not a human dietary necessity. But I also don’t want to be that person weeping over a side salad every time I go out for dinner. Why can’t salmon grow on trees!

Anyway back to the cupcakes. I keep getting off-topic today. Bake them with your eyes wide open! Because despite all that moisture they can burn quickly because of the lack of oil. Fill them whenever you want, ice them whenever you want because it isn’t going to melt and run everywhere. Eat them fresh, refrigerate them for a truffle-like texture. Enjoy them. 

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Orange and Cinnamon Marmalade: (Reduced but same recipe as Three Blue Ducks)

2 kilograms (4.5 pounds) oranges, rinsed and sliced thinly. 

1 litre of water 

1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of white sugar 

3 cinnamon quills

Put all the ingredients in a very large pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours. Once the mix begins to look like jam, test it by placing a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes, then dolloping some marmalade on to it and putting it back in the freezer. Pull it out after a minute and run your finger through it. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. Repeat until the marmalade is ready.

Pour into sterilised jars (mine made exactly 8 large jars) whilst still hot and keep in the fridge once open. To sterilise jars, was well with soapy water or better in the dishwasher on high, then leave to dry out in the oven for ten minutes on 170C (340f). 

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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes: Recipe barely adapted from Petite Kitchen

2 oranges, rinsed

240g (2 cups) almond meal

1 tsp baking soda

5 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with 10 tablespoons water (or 5 large eggs)

60g (4 heaped tablespoons) raw cocoa powder

100ml (5 tablespoons) raw honey

Optional: 12 Macadamias, cherries, berries, or pieces of date. 

Preheat oven to 160C (320F) and line 12 cupcake tins with papers. Boil the oranges in water for an hour until soft. Blend in a blender until smooth, and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend well. Half fill the cupcake cases with mixture. Either add another topping now with a small teaspoon, making a small indent first, or fill to the brim. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean (avoid the middle).

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For the icing: (Found at 80twenty)

170g (1 cup) dates

120ml (1/2 cup) boiling water

30g (2 tablespoons) cocoa powder

20g (1 heaped tablespoon) almond, peanut or coconut butter

Soak the dates in the boiling water until soft. Blend in a powerful blender, adding the other ingredients. Using a palette knife, spread the icing generously on the cupcakes and serve. Keeps in the fridge for a few days. 

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