I’ve been at sixes and sevens with blogging recently. It’s a pain, my laptop never seems to work properly and I struggle with the WordPress app on my iPad. Anyway I’m trying out the app again. So if you hear lots of screaming and swearing coming from my house, then you know why.
Anyway, I haven’t done much baking either as we’ve had a lot on in the SmartCookieSam house. My daughter has been going on a few uni open day visits and I’ve been very busy getting back into the day job (I’m a primary school supply teacher) after the summer holidays.
Last Wednesday I had a free afternoon. I was teaching in the morning, came home and walked the dog but it was one of those afternoons where I just wanted to bake. If you are a baking addict like me then you will understand…
I decided to have a go at the Chocolate Orange Cake which is featured in the October chapter of the Clandestine Cake Club’s book “A Year Of Cake”. The recipe creator Fiona O’Donnell created it with World Mental Health Day in mind, which falls on 10th October. Although I’d baked the cake two weeks after the day itself, it is a day to me which will never be forgotten on my calendar.
The recipe introduction states “Members have often said how joining the Clandestine Cake Club has made their lives so much richer” and “that baking has helped them through difficult times in their lives.”
World Mental Health Day is held annually to raise awareness of mental health and this cake is no exception. To me, baking is not just baking a cake. It is a focus on doing something positive and productive. Baking is therapeutic and makes me feel good about myself. When I bake a cake I don’t feel like a useless fat lump but someone who can actually achieve something. If baking was taken away from me I wouldn’t be the person I was. Unfortunately it has its problems, I’m 2 stone heavier than I was 5 years ago! So anything I bake I can’t eat now, or in very small amounts. But this doesn’t stop me from feeling passionately that a pastime like baking or or another hobby like sewing have enormous benefits for people’s wellbeing.
So, with my new health regime in mind I decided to bake the Chcocolate Orange Cake which is a true feel good cake in lots of ways. It was easy to bake, looked stunning as it was a marble cake and it contains all the wonderful flavours of that ultimate feel good food- chocolate!
The cake itself was simple to bake- flour and baking powder were sifted together in a bowl, then caster sugar was added to it. After that I added in some softened unsalted butter and medium beaten eggs. This formed the main cake. To create the marble effect I then halved the mixture into two separate bowls. To one bowl I added orange juice and zest and to the other some cocoa powder.
Now this is where my heckles started rising. I’d run out of my favourite Sugar and Crumbs cocoa powder and the normal cocoa powder kept in my baking stash had gone! I was livid, think my kids had nicked it to make brownies in a mug but didn’t tell me they’d done it. Not happy. So in the end I had to use some hot chocolate powder. I wasn’t sure if this would work, especially since the mixture looked a lot paler than it would with normal cocoa powder. If only I could padlock my baking cupboard!
The mixture then went into a pre-greased and lined tin. I tried carefully to create a marble effect so it looked good when the cake was cut up.
After about 45 minutes the cake was ready. There was a gorgeous orangey smell coming from my kitchen and it was mouthwatering. I had to leave the cake cooling before I took it out of the tin but I made the chocolate orange icing while I was waiting. It was a simple runny icing: icing sugar, cocoa powder and orange juice. Though once again was using the hot chocolate powder. It worked out ok, it was just a little bit lighter than the icing shown in the picture!
As I was teaching at one of my regular schools the following day I decided to take the cake along to share with the staff there. They are all very kind and welcoming to me and I thought they deserved a treat coming up to half term. Thankfully the cake went down very well.
Love Sam xx