As I sit down at the end of my first week of work as a fledgling doctor, I can get down to some serious baking, eating and writing. First on my list of treats to devour is this beast. There’s something quite special about baking a ‘sandwich’ style cake – it feels like an occasion. You’ve got to have friends or family round to share it with, or else you might see me soon in the hospital. There’s none of the pretension of cupcakes that are more icing than sponge.
A cake like this is unapologetic and bare; the flavours are in plain sight. Form follows function in every aspect. Although this might seem to have a few more ingredients than your standard victoria sponge, it’s really just as easy. The zest gives the sponge an orangey hit. The addition of ground almonds make it more crumbly, and mean that this cake will last a good while before going dry. But it won’t last that long. That dribbling chocolate ganache (as simple as chocolate and warm cream, mixed) make this an enticing creature of which everyone will want a slice.
First, preheat your oven to 180C/160C/gas 4. Line the bottom two 7-8inch cake tins with baking paper, and grease around the sides plenty.
Into a large bowl, place your butter. Zap it in the microwave if it isn’t soft. Add in your caster sugar and your clementine zest, and beat until smooth and light and fluffy.
Add your eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Finally, stir in your flour, almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder until your mix is just combined – you don’t want it totally smooth, but no bare flour should be visible.
Transfer your mix to your cake tins and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bouncy when pressed lightly on top. Remove to let cool in their tins
As they cool make your ganache. Into a bowl, break your chocolate into manageable chunks. In a pan, place your double cream. Bring your double cream to a simmer (watch it doesn’t boil over), then pour this on top of your chocolate. Stir together to combine.
As your cakes and your ganache cool, you can make your optional candied peel. Juice two clementines into a saucepan, then cut their peel into strips and add that in too. Add your sugar, then cover with water. Bring to the simmer, whilst you assemble your cake.
Place one sponge on a plate or cake stand, then cover in about a third of your ganache (zap it in the microwave if it went solid). Add your other sponge, upside-down if you want a flat top. Cover this in the rest of your ganache so it drips down the side.
As your peel simmers you’ll notice it going translucent – once it has reached this stage, remove it from it’s hot liquid (beware of hot sugar burns) and stack it in the middle of the cake. Leave the ganache to set before cutting, if you can.
To really amplify the oranginess from this cake, bring the juice of three more clementines to the simmer with 50g caster sugar, and then drizzle this over your sponges prior to assembling.