Almond sponge cake & Blood orange

For the blood oranges:
  • 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 blood oranges, peeled and cut into slices
For the sponge:
  • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Grated zest of one blood orange
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g ground almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/fan oven 140C/325F/gas mark 3.
  2. Line a 20cm round with baking paper. It is advisable to wrap the outside of the tin with foil in case the oranges ooze juice during baking – better to have a sticky tin, than a sticky oven!
  3. Start by making the blood orange layer: beat together the butter and sugar until it is whippy and well combined. 
  4. Spread, as best you can, over the bottom of the cake tin.
  5. Lay the blood orange slices over the bottom of the cake tin – pack them in as tightly as you can so it will look pretty when you turn the cake out (the bottom during baking will become the top when the cake is turned out).
  6. Now make the sponge: beat together the butter and sugar until the batter is light and fluffy looking. Do not skimp on this stage.
  7. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  8. Beat in the orange zest and almond extract.
  9. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds. It will be a firm batter but this is ideal as it will absorb the orange juice and hold its shape.
  10. Spoon the batter over the blood oranges, taking care not to disturb them.
  11. Level the surface and then spread the batter from the centre out to the edges so it ends up with a dip in the centre i.e. the batter is higher at the edges than the centre. This will help keep the top level during baking; the top will become the base of the cake when baked so keeping it level will save having to cut any cake away when baked.
  12. Bake for approximately 1 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out cleanly. (Start testing the cake after an hour and 10 minutes).
  13. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. If the top of your cake has peaked during baking, level the surface with a knife before turning out.
  14. Leave to cool completely on the wire rack.
  15. Serve either on its own, or with a blob of cream.
  16. Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.