Bloody good Greek orange cake

It’s 12 months since I last published a post here. Another non-fatal casualty of the pandemic!

Now, as my home city, Melbourne, draws near to the vaccination level that will enable a cautious easing of restrictions, I feel ready to share some tales of the pleasures Maggie and I draw from our time together in our kitchen.

Let’s start with this beauty: blood orange portokalopita.

The recipe we began with for this cake is by Helen Goh, a Malaysian-Australian pastry chef who has worked alongside Yotam Ottolenghi since 2006. You will find the recipe here.

When we first saw the photo that accompanied the recipe, we thought: “We would love to make a cake that looks like that”. Once we had read the recipe, we felt a little daunted but we also knew that Helen Goh has a high reputation.

So, with blood oranges in season here, we gave it a go. Here is how our first attempt turned out.

Now, some blood oranges do have pale flesh, so the look lacked the wow factor we had hoped for. However, the flavour and texture were exceptional, despite the fact that we had left out one ingredient – 120ml of cream.

We learned some lessons about the ingredients and the baking process, made some adjustments and, at our second attempt, produced the result at the top of this post. That wowed us! And it tasted as good as it looks.

Here is a list of our observations and modifications.

  1. Unless your home has a high level of humidity, the filo sheets will take no more than 4 hours to dry out.
  2. The orange that you simmer needs to be of a good size; otherwise, simmer two smaller ones and use one and a half of them.
  3. We put half the cinnamon stick, two cloves, two cardamom pods and some fresh ginger in the water with the orange. (The remaining half of the cinnamon stick was used in the syrup.)
  4. We processed the cooked orange with the orange (more) and lemon (less) zests and about 100ml of vegetable oil and then transferred it to bowl in which we had whipped the eggs, sugar, yoghurt, cream etc.
  5. We halved some of the fresh oranges so we could pack more pieces on the base of the baking tin.
  6. For half of the baking time, we used a setting on our oven which generated heat only from the bottom of the oven, supplemented by the oven fan. This helped the orange pieces to caramelise.
  7. To make the syrup, we used 170ml of the strained water from cooking the orange and 170ml of fresh blood orange juice.
  8. We cooked the syrup for quite a bit longer until we were satisfied with the taste and consistency.
  9. And, to help distribute the syrup through the cake, we poked a couple of dozen holes in the top with a wooden skewer.

Cheers for now.
Rick Grounds

About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I are both in our late 60s and live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. As cooks, we are skilful and adventurous within a framework of mainly traditional ingredients and techniques, and we aim to prepare nutritious food that looks good and tastes delicious. Our evolving repertoire is influenced by both our travels and Melbourne's vibrant food culture. From 2008 to early 2020, our priority travel destinations were overseas, although we have always spent a bit of time each year exploring parts of Australia. Our first overseas journey together was to Italy in the northern autumn of 2008. We later travelled in France (2009), Spain (2011), Singapore and Cambodia (2012/13). Most of our international adventures from 2014 to 2020 are covered in this blog. We have now reached a time in our lives when the prospect of long flights to distant places are unappealing, so we will travel mainly within Australia or to countries that are close to home.
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