Christmas is around the corner, and the clock is ticking down hurriedly to a whole new exciting year.
The festive season is always a special and memorable time. It brings family and friends together with rituals and traditions, sparkle and magic, gifts and fun and food.
Sure, the holiday season wouldn't be the same without a little merry-making in the kitchen. So, don your festive apron and bake up something wonderful to slice and serve your dear and near ones. There’s nothing that celebrates the holiday spirit quite like a homemade gorgeous bake.
And for all of you sweet tooth’s out there, this is just what the doctor ordered—decadently delicious orange loaf.
There’s no shortage of cake recipes on the web. I know. With so many drooling photographs in all shapes and flavors, you will be spoilt for choice. Yet, still end up feeling flustered with indecision.
Well then, start here, with this perfect cake recipe, a Hummingbird specialty. It’s my gift to you. This festive season—enjoy.
I am happiest when I am baking. Creaming, mixing, buttering, and waiting for the mix to rise in the oven followed by the sweet aroma of baking that fills the home with warmth. You know what I mean?
This is just a damn good pound cake. The lightest and most enticingly moist sponge you will ever come across. Oh boy.
The kind of cake you can bake at home and share with pride.
Hummingbird is a bakery in London selling deliciously gorgeous American style treats to its customers. I was instantly charmed by the name, hummingbird—it sounded like delightful poetry. A quick flip through the glossy pages of “Cake Days” at the bookstore showed mouth-watering recipes, and within seconds I made up my mind. And since then I have tried few of their recipes and everything—yes everything!—comes out perfectly, and everybody raves about them!
With the temperatures dropping and the glitter of magic in the air, this beautiful loaf is perfect for a lazy morning tea or weekend brunch dessert or afternoon tea. Better still, wrap it in clear cellophane bag, tie it up with a fancy ribbon, and give away as gifts to your colleagues and friends. If you are like me, you would love to give presents as much as you enjoy receiving them!
Well, what is a loaf cake? A loaf is a shape—usually oblong or rounded. A loaf cake is a pound cake baked in a loaf tin. Now-now, what is a pound cake? It is a sponge cake made with a 1:1:1:1 ratio of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. The recipe originally contained one pound of these ingredients—nothing but one pound each of these ingredients—and so the name.
This moist cake with a spongy texture and lovely golden brown crust studded with crunchy flaked almonds is super easy to throw together and the flavors get better with time. It is beautifully moist without having the uncooked pudding-like quality—you get me, na? Nor is it dry as some recipes turn out to be. The orange flavor is very subtle, with just enough to brighten up and blend the flavors with yogurt, vanilla and ground almonds.
Baking is all about precision. So weight your ingredients. And use fresh good quality ingredients—this is important in baking good cakes. You can replace the orange with lemon. Use eggs and butter at room temperature, and don’t forget to butter and flour the pan well—even nonstick pan—so that that the cake will easily release without sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan, and you will end up with a perfectly shaped loaf.
I made this for a family dinner party and everybody raved about it. The recipe is a keeper and will be right up there with the best in my home bake repertoire.
Orange Almond and Yogurt Loaf
(Recipe source: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days by Tarek Malouf)
Prep 15 mins; cooking about 60 mins
190g (7oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
190g (7oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
190g (7oz) caster sugar
3 large eggs
60g (2oz) ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
25g (1oz) plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence (I used 1.5 teaspoons)
10g (1/3 oz) flaked almonds
One 8.5 x 17.5cm (3 ½ x 7 in) loaf tin with 7.5cm (3in) sides
Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F), Gas mark 3. Grease the loaf tin—8.5 x 17.5cm (3 ½ x 7 in) loaf tin with 7.5cm (3in) sides—with butter and dust with flour.
Using an electric whisk, cream together the butter, orange zest and sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition and scraping down the bowl to ensure they are all well mixed in.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Tip the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in two batches and whisk together on low speed until just incorporated, and then mix in the yogurt and vanilla essence.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the sponge is firm on top and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool a little before turning it out on to a wire rack to cool completely for serving. Use a serrated knife to slice into portions.
The baking time will vary depending on the oven as well as the baking tin. The smaller size tins will be done faster than the suggested cooking time. So keep an eye on the oven and bake until it passes the toothpick test. Check by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the loaf—if it comes out clean, it is done!
You can also bake the loaf in smaller disposable tins. Once done, cover with clear cellophane, tie up with a ribbon or twine, and give away as gifts for your friends to nibble.
Whatever your holiday tradition, I am wishing you the most beautiful season filled with love and hope and magic, long lingering meals with great conversations, and the best of the holiday food.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours—Nashi xo