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Campari and Orange Cake – could we possibly pass it up?

Posted in Baking, and Food & Entertaining

Yosi Pozeilov Photography
Yosi Pozeilov Photography

At this time of the year, even in climate blessed California, we are scouring the markets for fruit offerings other than apples and oranges. Eagerly awaiting for peaches and strawberries, we are nonetheless stuck with apples and oranges, unless we settle for fruit shipped from South America, a guarantee of blandness.

So I have been busy with the last of the blood oranges, a favorite of mine, probably because they remind me of my mom’s lovingly hand pressed juice every time I had a cold as a child. It was her panacea for sore throats and the flu: arguable but tasty.

My first project was a marmalade sticky cake, that English staple that is usually a bit too sweet for my tastes, which I made it with the bitterest marmalade I could find. Delicious.

Then my friend Marie, on one of our weekly walks, mentioned a blood orange and Campari cake: I was all ears – a Campari cake?? Marie had already mentioned the cookbook of the London restaurant Polpo, a name that kept on cropping up in various blogs I follow.
Polpo specializes in Venetian food, or its take of it, and this Campari cake is a bit of a stretch: I have never seen it served anywhere in Venice but, at its base, are semolina and no leavening agents, two traits of many Venetian desserts.

I was slightly skeptical but how could we pass up this opportunity here at C&S of all places? The cake in itself is modest but the Campari and orange glaze elevates it to uber-delicious status, especially if your palate, like mine, is not a fan of very sweet desserts. It’s definitely a grown-up cake eve if the bitterness of the Campari is tamed by quite a bit of sugar.

My sticky marmalade cake -
My sticky marmalade cake 

I loved it especially the day it was made while Marie preferred it the day after. The original recipe calls for a pretty short and unrealistic baking time that I increased by nearly half. The recipe that follows is very close to the original but, when I made it, I halved the ingredients as it’s just two of us here at home and there is only so much cake we can take without scaring our jeans to the back of the closet. If it’s a small cake you want, just do as I did and bake it in a smaller vessel.

Ingredients – serves 12

8 blood oranges

350 g Greek yogurt

600 g sugar – divided

4 eggs, lightly beaten

250 g butter, melted and cooled

350 g fine semolina

100 g ground almonds

100 ml Campari

  1.  Preheat the oven to 170C/350F.
  2.  Grate the zest of 4 oranges and juice all of them. Set aside.
  3.  In a large mixing bow, mix the yogurt, 300 g sugar, zest and eggs. Stir in the cold butter. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour in a greased  23 cm (10″) baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched (or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out dry). Depending on your oven, it can take up to an hour.
  4. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Put the juice, remaining 300 g sugar and the Campari in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let simmer until reduced by nearly half. You should have a very thick syrup.
  5. Unmold the cake while still a little bit warm (but not hot) and prick the surface with a toothpick. Pour half the glaze over it and let sit until completely absorbed. Repeat with the remaining glaze. You might want to keep a bit aside to smear on top of the cake prior to serving to make the most of the amazing color!.

Images by Yosi Pozeilov Phography and C&S


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    • Grazie Ambra! I had never heard of it….very possible will have to steal that recipe from you and post it. Will credit you and link to your blog if I do. Am going to try the drink this week-end. From a Campari head to another…..

      May 2, 2014
      • Steal away! And thanks for the credit. Love your blog too.

        May 2, 2014
  1. How inventive! I’ve never heard of it before but it looks extremely convincing. If you tell me where you’re setting up your stall, I’ll pop by for a slice 🙂

    March 27, 2014
    • Don’t think I haven’t thought about it over the years. You will be the first to know.

      March 28, 2014
  2. Yummy x I still have pears, apples, blackberries and rhubarb in the freezer which I grew in my garden last year. I love that I can make desserts from my own fruit right up til the new fruits are ready.
    But your Campari and marmalade cake sounds delicious x

    March 27, 2014
    • You are so wise to freeze your bounty. I never get it together but I do pull a few jars of apricot jam once in a while, which taste so amazing six months later when there might not be snow outside, but the apricot tree is barren.

      March 28, 2014
    • Anything with Campari has to be relish…but I am rather biased.

      March 28, 2014
  3. Harriette Smith
    Harriette Smith

    The campari cake looks and sound delicious. My mouth keeps watering already.
    Oh, have I had a taste of sweet cantaloupe!!! When wiill this take place ?? Can’t wait for a peach or an apricot… maybe watermelon. Bring on the summer and the fresh fruits. Love, Harriette Smith

    March 26, 2014
    • Me too! A juicy slice of cantaloupe, a ripe peach…we will have to go to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market when the time comes!

      March 28, 2014

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