When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure whether to focus solely on British Seasonal Food or to include imported foods too. Citrus fruit have appeared in our shops for as long as I can remember, however, and are an essential ingredient in so many of our dishes. It doesn’t seem right to leave them out.
The Blood Orange - aka Blush Orange - are in season from December to May but are at their sweetest in January and February. Cool nights following warm Mediterranean days turn the flesh a vivid red or orange streaked with flecks of red color. Each orange varies in the intensity of colour and, of course, it is impossible to know without cutting the orange open, as I found with those I bought specifically for this post. None of them were the vivid red I had hoped for but they are pretty just the same. The fruit are slightly smaller than a medium orange with fairly thick skin which can be either pitted or smooth.
The red colour comes from anthocyanins, compounds that give red, blue and purple colour to fruit and vegetable such as red cabbage and blackberries. It is vital to harvest the oranges at the peak of freshness to ensure the maximum amount of anthocyanins present. These compunds are powerful antioxidants and studies have shown they are beneficial in decreasing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. They are also low in calories at just 70 per fruit.
Oranges can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes - it famously goes well with Duck. It can be juiced, added to salads and sauces and made into Marmalade. I have chosen, however, to make Blood Orange Curd which I am going to use as the filling for a simple Victoria Sponge cake - just perfect for a tea time treat. The recipe for the curd comes from the blog Food in Jars and the cake recipe is the foolproof all in one from Mary Berry.
As I mentioned above, I was hoping my oranges would be a vivid red colour. I wanted my curd to be rich in colour and was a little concerned to not find a single red one amongst the several I had bought. Nonetheless the curd still has a lovely rich orange colour which distinguishes it from the more familiar Lemon version.
In addition to the curd, I also added a frosting made from Mascarpone Cheese, the juice and zest of half an orange and icing sugar.
I am so pleased with how the cake turned out. I am not a bad cake maker but I am not a cake decorator - I simply don’t have the patience and there are so many talented people around that I wouldn’t even begin to compete. So the simpler, the better for me.
I probably should have made the curd the day before so that it was a little more set and didn’t ooze out quite so much, but life is too short to worry about that. It tastes fantastic and will definitely not last long!
I had really good light yesterday so the images were all shot in my preferred natural light. With the exception of the header shot of the oranges, I used my Canon 100mm f2.8L IS Macro lens - such a lovely lens to create shallow depth of field. Even with good light I needed to use my tripod, however., otherwise I would have had to bump up my ISO higher than I would have liked, even with Image Stabilizer (IS).
For the header shot, I used my Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art Lens - another fantastic lens that I use mostly for overhead shooting.
So I promised cake and here it is. Until next week.