Monday, 16 December 2013

Chocolate & Clementine Marble Ring Cake

Whilst rich fruit cakes are hugely popular at Christmas, they are not to everyone’s taste. I love Christmas cakes laden with fruit, but I also think that it’s nice to serve an alternative. Children in particular, can find traditional fruit cakes too rich and given that you can never go wrong with chocolate, I quickly decided that I wanted to create something that had chocolate in it. Each year I bake a Chocolate Yule Log, but for this cake I was keen to include a fruity element.  I also did not want to ice the cake with buttercream or glacé icing… I actually wanted quite a simple cake which was all about the flavours used.
 
Chocolate and orange are two flavours that go so well together, but I decided that I would use clementines along with the chocolate because they are a fruit that is closely associated with Christmas!

Clementines are a variety of mandarin orange, so called because they were first discovered by Father Clément Rodier in the garden of the orphanage that he ran in Misserghin, Algeria. Clementines have many desirable characteristics, not least of which is that they are seedless. They are also easy to peel and have citrusy sweetness that still retains a zingy freshness on the palate.

Rather than flavour the chocolate element of my cake with the clementines, I opted to keep the flavours separate and decided to make a marble cake where the chocolate and clementine flavours mingled but also remained distinct from each other.
 
I was determined to create something that was also very Christmassy looking and taking my inspiration from Christmas wreaths which adorn many a door during the festive season, I chose to bake my marble cake in a ring tin and decorated it with drizzled chocolate to emulate woody twigs.
 
I am very pleased with the effect that I achieved and think that it does look very Christmassy.  It was a very easy cake to make and the chocolate and clementine flavours went so well together.
 
 
 
  

Ingredients:

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
275g self raising flour1tsp baking powder4 large eggs, lightly beaten2 tblsp milk
25g cocoa powder
2 tblsp boiling water
Grated zest and juice of 2 clementines
To finish:
125g melted dark chocolate
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/ Gas Mark 5. Grease a 25cm ring cake tin generously with butter and then dust the buttered surface with a couple of tablespoons of flour, shaking out any excess. Set aside until required.
2. Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water together, in a small bowl.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a hand held electric mixer. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and add to the creamed mixture gradually, add the milk once approximately half of the flour has been mixed in. once all the flour has been added, mix for a further minute.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between two bowls.
5. To one bowl add the Clementine zest and juice and mix well with a spoon to incorporate.
6. Add the cocoa powder mixture to the other bowl, again mixing well to incorporate.
7. Alternating between the two, spoon blobs of the chocolate and clementine flavoured mixtures into the tin and gently level the surface.
8. Place in the pre-heated oven to bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until the cake is well risen and springy to the touch.
9. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly for ten minutes, then turn out of the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To finish:
10. Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of water. Spoon the mixture into a small disposable piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cake.
11. Allow the chocolate to harden. The cake can also e decorated with chocolate holly leaves or as I have done by placing a few clean pine cones in the centre of the cake.
 
Serves 8-10.