My blog is all about exploring ways in which we can better nourish our bodies while still enjoying food, with a focus on creating healthier versions of the recipes that I love. But sometimes you have to go all in, by which I mean all-butter, all-sugar and all-Masterchef.
I love Masterchef Australia. I love it for the three judges – Matt, whom we affectionately call The Hog because of his enormous size and the way he snuffles during tastings, Gary, the down-to-earth every man and my personal fave, pep-talk George, on whom I have an inexplicable crush (it’s the bald head, for sure). I love it for the inspiring recipes that the contestants create and their simple enjoyment of food. I especially love to watch it when I’m ravenous, with a heaped plate of delish dinner in front of me.
But most of all, I love Masterchef because I like to try and recreate the recipes. Often I will take a recipe I saw on the programme and make it healthy. Other times I will try to recreate it exactly, to test my very much work-in-progress cooking skills and to see whether I can match up. In the past this has produced dishes that I can now call signatures, like Nigella Lawson’s coffee panacotta which I nailed first time. Other times, it has produced spectacular flops, luckily none of them at a dinner party (yet).
Last week on episode 3 of season 10 (do not fear, THERE ARE NO SPOILERS HERE), a contestant produced a dish that was an instant hit with judges: orange cake with orange sauce and zabaglione. I could smell the citrus through the screen and decided then and there to make it at the next opportunity. That came round sooner that expected and so, at our family dinner on Friday night, I served orange cake and orange sauce with store-bought ice-cream, because zabaglione fail. Nevertheless, the rest of the dish turned out awesome and as one of the more sophisticated desserts I’ve made, I’m proud of it and wanted to share it. If you try and this and get your zabaglione, please comment with tips!
Orange Cake with orange sauce and almond praline
Note: I tripled the cake recipe and doubled the other elements to make enough for 7 people, so I’m going to share my exact combination. For the original recipe, click here.
- 4 oranges, peeled
- 255g unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 3/4 cup almond meal
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 4 oranges)
- 4 tsp caster sugar
- 60g butter
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese (250g tub)
- 4 tsp icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
Zabaglione (I didn’t double this):
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp Marsala wine (I didn’t have, so I used dessert wine)
- Pre-heat oven to 160C. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
- For the orange cake, place oranges in food processor and pulse till roughly chopped.
- Add butter and process until just combined. Add remaining ingredients and process until mixture is thick and well combined (I had to do this in stages as the food processor was very full!).
- Fill muffin pan with cake batter to ¾ full.
- Place in the oven and bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 12-15 minutes (mine took 13). Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly then invert onto a wire rack. Set aside to cool. Increase oven to 180C.
- For the orange sauce, place orange juice and sugar into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/4 to 1/2, about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add butter and stir until smooth. Pour into a small serving jug and set aside.
- For the almond praline, place almonds on a greased tray. Place into oven and bake until slightly browned and toasted, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Place sugar into a saucepan over medium heat until sugar has melted and reached a golden colour.
- Pour melted sugar evenly over over toasted almonds and set aside to cool.
- When cooled break into pieces and place in a mortar and pestle. Grind until fine crumbs are reached. Set aside.
- For the mascarpone cream, place mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and vanilla essence into a bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- For the zabaglione, bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Place the yolks, sugar and Marsala/dessert wine into a bowl and place over simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes light and fluffy and doubles in size. Transfer to 6 small ramekins (since my zabaglione failed and ended up as a dense custard, I poured it into a jug and served it as a custard swipe on the plate. The texture was wrong but it was tasty!).
- To serve, spread mascarpone cream in a round on each serving plate and top with an orange cake.
- Sprinkle praline over plate.
- Swipe custard flop on plate and serve with ice cream on the side OR serve with zabaglione on the side.