It’s the time of the year when Singapore becomes a ghost town and the occasional clanging of cymbals and drums from the lion dance troupes are the only signs of life. Yes. I’m talking about Chinese New Year. Most shops would be closed for at least 2 days and so people usually stock their homes with some essential groceries. But I usually stock my home with Chinese New Year goodies such as love letters, bak kwa (sweet pork jerky) and pineapple tarts. Since I didn’t get to stuff my face with any Chinese New Year goodies this year, I made myself this orange cake- a very Chinese New Year fruit and colour. I’ve been wanting to use poppy seeds in a cake as I’ve never had the chance to use them. They’re banned in Singapore due to their direct links to the notorious opium dens in the past. I’ve read that even if you ingested a some poppy seeds on say a bagel or cake, it’ll show up in a drug test. However, a small amount would have no effect on your rationality, that is if you’re a rationale person to begin with. Even if your rationale self is intact after a slice of this cake, there’s quite a bit of booze to help you along. In summary, eat this cake at your own risk- either the poppy seeds, booze or it’s deliciousness would do you no good. (I’ve had 3 slices already!) The crumbs are ultra moist with a hint of fresh orange flavour and don’t skip on the syrup as it takes it to a whole other level. Trust me.
Orange & Poppyseed Syrup Cake
Adapted from Rhubarb & Rose
For the cake
- 200g + 50g caster sugar
- 250g butter, at room temperature
- zest of 2 medium oranges / 3-4 tangerines
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 250g plain flour
- 20g baking powder
- 1/2 cup blue poppy seeds
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 c milk, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp (or 3 tbsp!) orange liqueur / 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- edible flowers (optional)
For the orange syrup
- Juice of 1-2 tangerines, 1 medium orane
- 100 g sugar
- 8 inch/ 20 cm round tin, lined and greased
- preheat oven at 150°C fan-forced / 170°C convection
1.Sieve together flour and baking powder and set aside. Separate the egg yolks and whites when they are cold and let whites come to room temperature.
2.Using your flat beater on medium-high speed, cream 200g caster sugar, butter and orange zest till mixture turns pale and creamy.
3.On low speed,incorporate yolks one at a time.Add in vanilla extract and orange liqueur/orange juice.
4. Then on low speed, add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 of milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour mix. For the last 1/3 flour mix, gently fold in the flour with a spatula.
5. Gently fold in the poppy seeds. Set aside.
6. In another clean bowl, add salt and egg whites and using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on low speed.
7. When you start seeing bubbles forming at the edges and the egg whites starting to look opaque, increase your mixer speed to medium-high and add 50g caster a tablespoon at a time.
8. After about 8-10 minutes, you should have a cloud-like, shiny meringue.
9. Using your spatula, mix in 1/3 of the meringue into the egg/flour batter gently. Then repeat till all meringue is used up. Take extra care not to over mix or beat out the air.
10. Transfer mix into prepared cake tin. Give the tin and matter a good whack on your kitchen table to get rid of large air bubbles.
11. Bake in oven for about 60-70 minutes, or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
12. In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and sugar till all the sugar is dissolved.
13. Once the cake is done, using a thin bamboo skewer/ tooth pick, poke holes all over the cake.
14. Pour the warm orange syrup immediately into the hot cake so that it’ll absorb all the syrup.
15. Leave cake to cool in tin for at least 30 minutes before removing from tin.
16. Once cooled, scatter some edible flowers and serve at room temperature or slightly warm.
- The original recipe did not require for the extra meringue step. But I found that the cake was lighter when the meringues were added. You could skip this step and beat in all the eggs at Step 3.
- Cold eggs are easier to separate and room temp egg whites become larger airier meringues.
- This cake can also be made with lemons.
- The poppy seeds and orange liqueur are optional as I know poppy seeds are banned in some countries. However, if you do have access to them, they add a delightful crunch to this cake.
- This cake freezes beautifully. Once cake is cooled after Step 15, cover completely in clingfilm and freeze. To reheat, place in slightly warm 120°C oven for about 20 minutes or microwave a cake slice on high for about 30-40 seconds.