A glorious cake that pairs a flourless orange and hazelnut cake with gorgonzola dolce frosting, dripping honey and fresh figs, this is pure cornucopia with its abundant, sensual ingredients. It is also one of the easiest cakes to decorate yet delivers in presentation and wow factor. Perfect for Valentines Day!
There are all sorts of rules that exist. Some exist to keep order but there are times when I'm truly baffled as to their purpose. For instance, I was watching a youtube video where they interviewed Kate Moss. She made a remark about how it was totally not the done thing to match your lipstick to your nail polish. As if the fashion police would swoop on you and throw you in prison for violating the matching lipstick and nail polish code. I looked down at my nails.
They matched my red lipstick. I could almost hear the fashion police sirens coming for me. Which is probably why I can never be part of fashion. I'd be firmly in the back row, trying to jump over heads to see what was on the runway. Or I'd be the only one eating from the sushi tray with Liz Lemon.
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken and odd combinations can work. For Valentines Day I wanted to make something a bit different. This year like all years I watch for fig season to start and I hand picked six of the plumpest figs I could find (I'm that crazy lady at the fig stand, picking each up and weighing each in her hand). I decided to pair this with some gorgonzola dolce, not an unusual combination of course but I decided to make it a cake and use the gorgonzola in the frosting.
From that I started adding in things that I had in the pantry. Honey is a great partner to figs and gorgonzola and after eyeing the oranges that remained uneaten for a week I decided that the cake would be based on the heavenly orange cake by Claudia Roden. It's a cake unlike any other where whole oranges are cooked and then pulverised along with ground nuts, sugar and eggs. It has such an incredible texture to it and would be dense enough to hold up plenty of plump, luscious fruit and flowers.
If you have friends or loved ones that adore the sensuousness of figs and the flavour of gorgonzola then this is the cake for them. But really, it's for anyone that you might love because the gorgonzola is as strong or mild as you want it to be. It's really nothing more strange than salted caramel or dipping your fries in a sundae and the sweet gorgonzola gives it a richness without being overly odd or out of place. I adore those beautiful cakes with fresh fruit and flowers and the added advantage is that they are so easy to decorate and require no special piping or decorating skills - let nature do the hard work!
So tell me Dear Reader, did you know about the lipstick and nail polish rule? Do you follow it? Is there a rule that you don't understand why its existence? And what are your plans this Valentines Day?
Orange and Hazelnut Cake with Figs, Honey and Gorgonzola Frosting
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Degree of difficulty: easy to medium - honestly
Preparation time: 15 minutes plus cooling time
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 2 oranges
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 250g/0.5lb. ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
- 250g/0.5lb. caster or superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 100g/3.5ozs. cream cheese
- 1/4 cup icing or powdered sugar, sifted
- 50g Gorgonzola dolce (or however much you want for taste if you like it stronger)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Fresh figs, blueberries, roses and rose leaves to decorate
Step 1 - Wash the oranges well and pierce them all over. Place in a bowl with about an inch and a half of water. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes until soft (you can also boil these with water in a saucepan for about an hour). Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a 18cm/7.2inch cake tin with parchment on the base and sides.
Step 2 - When the oranges are cooked, discard the water and cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the oranges roughly being sure to remove all the pips. Place the oranges in a large food processor and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, ground nuts, caster and baking powder and process until it has just come together. Scoop into the tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
Step 3 - Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until fluffy. Add the gorgonzola to taste (I liked it quite strong but it's up to you). Spread on top of completely cold cake (if it is warm, the icing will slide). Top with split figs, blueberries, roses and rose leaves. Drizzle honey on top and serve. You can make this ahead of time by one or two days but store it in the fridge and decorate it on the day so that the flowers and fruit are fresh.