My life is organised, orderly and productive. Today I stopped by the market to pick up some – note, in season – blood oranges, on my way home from college where I’d just aced all my mocks. I whipped up a batch of these tea cakes, did all the homework set, fixed a puncture on my bike and made a step by step plan for the next four years of my life.
My hair is never frizzy, my eyeliner’s always even. I never wear the same pair of jeans five days straight, let alone the same pair of shoes for four months. I always carry tissues, safety pins and lip balm.
I make my bed every morning. Cycling, I am always overtaking the boys on their fancy racing bikes. It must be the chia seed porridge with rosewater dates and quince rhubarb compote I eat for breakfast.
My egg yolks separate themselves from the whites. I always sieve my flour. Occasionally I spill sugar but it always remains on the muffin tin, never on the floor.
I have my own photography studio at the end of our garden and shoot with a Canon EOS 5D MKIII Digital SLR camera.
In reality, I didn’t even realise it was blood orange season; I just thought they’d taste nice and look pretty. I was right – they do, but they were definitely a supermarket purchase. These teacakes were made at 6:30 in the morning. I leave punctures to my dad. I have no set life plan and I’m scared/excited about the unknown.
I shoot tea cakes on upturned trays balanced precariously on stools by the window. I photograph cake on the floor. I edit my photos on PowerPoint. I don’t know the name of my camera.
Perfect is boring. It’s unachievable. Can I talk about tea cakes now? These blood orange, almond and brown sugar ones are honestly the tastiest, moistest cakes I’ve baked in ages. They’re as close to perfect as you’re going to get. I might be in love. My mum, our resident ‘gluten-free lady’ certainly is.
Blood orange, almond and brown sugar tea cakes
Adapted from Lily Vanilli
2 blood oranges
150g light brown muscovado sugar
200g ground almonds
1 tsp. vanilla extract
35g plain flour*
30g flaked almonds
1 tbsp. thin cut marmalade
1 tbsp. light brown muscovado sugar
*to make these gluten free, substitute for 50g gluten free white flour (I use Glutafin White Mix)
Preheat your oven to Gas mark 6/200°C. Grate the zest from each orange into a large bowl. Cut the top off both oranges, and peel off the skin and the majority of the pith. Using a sharp knife, slice the oranges into ½ cm thick rounds, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. This will dry them out a little and stop you getting soggy cake. No one likes soggy cake.
To make the frangipane, cream the butter and brown sugar with the orange zest until the mixture has become paler in colour. Beat in the ground almonds, followed by the vanilla extract, eggs and plain flour. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and divide the frangipane mix between the holes. Place a cooled slice of blood orange, a few flaked almonds and a sprinkling of light brown sugar on top of each cake and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. When the cakes are cooked an inserted cocktail stick will come out clean.
Whilst the cakes are the oven, mix the marmalade with a few drops of water and warm through in the microwave until runny but not bubbling. Remove the cakes from the oven and, while they’re still hot, brush each one with the marmalade glaze and leave to cool for about 4 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes in the tins and turn them out onto a wire rack to cool fully.