17 October 2012

Moist Orange & Lemon Marble Cake

I have been sitting here for a few minutes now, wondering what on earth to call this cake.  I settled on "Orange & Lemon Marble Cake" some time ago - but it was finding a word to describe the end result after you've drizzled it with the syrup that was the difficult bit.

I felt that simply "Orange & Lemon Marble Cake" seemed as though it could convey itself as being rather dry - which this cake just isn't.  Having consulted the online thesaurus, however, I'm very definitely not going to use the majority of its "moist" alternatives.  Words like "drippy" (well, it did, for a bit!), "oozy" (hmmn, nope), "muggy" (hardly!), "dank" (ewww!), "muculent" (even ewwww-er!), "saturated", "dripping" and "sodden" (oooh, missus!).  The description of a "Drizzle Cake" isn't even right here, as for all that you drizzle syrup over it, there is no real evidence of it having been drizzled at the end of the process.  Well, not until you bite into it.

So "Moist Orange & Lemon Marble Cake" it is going to have to stay.

The marbling was there - but without food colour, it's difficult to see

My parents were coming over for a cup of tea and a chat, which provided the motivation to make the cake.  Not that I need a lot of motivation to make cake, you understand - but for the sake of all our waistlines, it's probably better that I leave cake baking until I've got someone else to help eat it up!

Film star cake shot - posing in a sunbeam
I had pondered for a while as to what to make.  I didn't want a cake that would need lots of decoration and icing etc., as that just adds to the calorific value and time spent in the kitchen.  I have to bear the length of time something takes to make in mind, because I only have so long that I can spend up on my legs, even if I am perched on the stool during most of it.  So it's no good baking a cake that requires lengthy decoration, only to find that I have no energy left in my legs with which to do it.

Marble cakes always go down well and I considered making a chocolate and orange marble cake.  So many of my cakes seem to involve chocolate somewhere along the line, that I was reluctant to go down that route.  The orange bit interested me, though.  I considered doing an Orange Drizzle Cake - in the same way as a Lemon version.  I wasn't sure that it would pack the same zap! as the lemon version though.

Then it occurred to me to do an Orange & Lemon Marble Cake.  It was very experimental at this stage and I pondered whether to colour the cake mixes so as to make the marbling more effective.  Having decided against it - on the grounds that if I can get away without using food colouring, so much the better - I can say that I would very definitely colour at least one - probably the orange - cake mix and have reflected that in the recipe below.  For all that you could taste the difference in flavours as they swirled through the cake, you couldn't see the difference other than the change in the colour of the fruit zest.

I'm not sure what clever cake fairy whispered in my ear about drizzling the citrus syrup over the cake, but I'm jolly glad she did.  It made the end result so deliciously moist, sticky and moreish.

The cake got the thumbs up from my parents, with murmurs of appreciation for its fine texture and lovely flavours - and best of all, they helped to eat a good percentage of it.  There was just enough left for son & heir to have a second go at it, which made him happy too.

Serving up a home made cake seems to me to mean so much more to your guests, than just breaking out a bought offering.  It's all cake - but home made is cake made with love more often than not.  "Love" is like "umami" - it's very difficult to quantify and describe, but it makes all the difference when it's in the recipe.


Ingredients :

225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 tbsp juice & 1 tbsp zest of a lemon
1 tbsp juice & 1 tbsp zest of an orange
Orange food colour

For the syrup :
1 tbsp shredless orange marmalade
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat your oven to 180degC/340degF/gas 4.

2.  Line the bottom of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

3.  Place the butter, caster sugar, eggs and flour into a food processor and whizz until smooth.

4.  Divide the mixture between two bowls and add the lemon zest & juice to one bowl and the orange zest, juice & two drops of food colour, to the other bowl.  Stir to combine, using a different spoon for each bowl.

5.  Dollop alternately into the cake tin, making sure to divide the flavours as much as possible.

6.  Using the handle of the spoon, run it lightly through the mixture - which will create the swirly pattern.  Don't overdo this bit, or you'll mix it in too much.

7.  Level the surface and tap the tin on the work surface to expel any large air bubbles.

8.  Put into the oven and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

9.  Turn out onto a cooling rack.

10.  In a small saucepan, place all the syrup ingredients and heat gently, stirring, until the marmalade has dissolved.

11.  Taking a fine skewer, pierce the cake repeatedly all over the top surface.

12.  Paint on the syrup liberally, ensuring that it runs into the skewer holes and not down the sides of the cake, until the syrup is all gone.

13.  Cool completely.


Printable version


  1. I made some orange & rosemary drizzle cupcakes for the school bake sale recently. The rosemary works well with the citrus flavour. This cakes looks lovely!

    1. Yes, now I can imagine that Rosemary would go particularly well with orange - and in a cupcake, which involves lots of sugar, wouldn't be too savoury either.


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