Dessert recipes – Orange and Almond Cake with a Mascarpone and Vanilla topping and Rhubarb Creme Brulee

May 21, 2010

Well, this might just be the start of summer. I think just about everyone is planning a  barbeque this weekend and my contribution is going to be two very, very good desserts that you can make well ahead of time and have stashed in the fridge. Wow your friends with effortless catering and avoid any headwrecks about what’s for dessert after you’ve had a few beers – at the same time! If you get cracking you can make one this evening and have it ready for tomorrow………..

The orange season is nearly over so I thought I’d get this one in before they go. I made it a few weeks back when I wanted to do something quick for dessert and had a big box of oranges sitting in the utility room. I love almonds with orange so I added some (ground) to the sponge mix. This made the sponge a bit denser than usual with a lovely bit of chewiness. I soaked the sponge in orange juice then topped it with a mascarpone cream. What I realised afterwards is that it’s even better the next day so if you can bear to wait, try and leave the sponge (covered) overnight before adding the mascarpone.

If you want to make a sandwich cake which will go further, double the quantities below and use the topping as a filling then dust the top with icing sugar.

Orange and Almond Cake topped with a Mascarpone cream

You’ll need:

130gr Butter

130gr Sugar

2 Eggs

80gr Self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon Baking Powder

50gr Ground Almonds

2 Oranges (or 1 really big one)

Vanilla Essence

1 tub Mascarpone

60 ml  cream (or milk)

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy – this will take about 5 minutes. Add 1 egg and continue mixing til absorbed into the mixture. Keep mixing, adding in about half the flour, then the other egg. Finally, add the rest of the flour along with the almonds and a few drops of vanilla essence.  Beat for another minute then spoon the mixture into a greased baking tin about  22cm or 8.5 inches  in diameter. Bake at Gas mark 5 (180 degrees) for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre. Set the sponge aside to cool.

Grate the rind of the oranges taking care not to include any of the white stuff  just under the skin as this is bitter. Squeeze the orange(s) and pour the juice over the sponge when it has cooled down. If you can bear to wait, the best thing is to cover the sponge and wait a day if you can’t, no worries – it’ll still be great.

To finish off , beat the mascarpone with the cream or milk, a few drops of vanilla essence and the grated peel (keep a little back for decoration).Spread the mascarpone over the sponge and top with a little grated peel. If you don’t finish it all the first time be sure and store this cake in the fridge as the mascarpone will go off in this heat (can’t believe I’m saying this!!!).

Ok onto option 2. Something with the rhubarb we have was obvious and I went for Paul’s best (and only) dessert. It is fab. Creme brulee if you’re not familiar with it, is a lightly set custard with burnt sugar on the top. The burning of the sugar was what piqued Paul’s interest in the beginning. I mean, you get to play with a blow torch! This has proved to be so much fun that he’s now considering taking the sugar burning to the next level and acquiring some branding irons when we go to Barcelona next (I kid you not). There, they are still used ……….. by very ,very, very old people who DON’T have blow torches. If you have neither of these toys, a very hot grill will suffice to burn your sugar.

The addition of rhubarb happened mainly because we all love rhubarb. Rhubarb and custard is a classic and this is really just a posh version. Ever of the more is more persuasion when it comes to desserts, I like to dip my brulee with those thin ginger biscuits you see in delis. If you don’t have any it’s not the end of the world….

Rhubarb Creme Brulee with Ginger Biscuits (for 4)

You’ll need:

2 stalks rhubarb

4 organic egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

A little water

300ml double Cream

130ml Milk

3 Tablespoons Vanilla sugar – you can buy this in good delis or make your own by putting a vanilla pod in a jar of sugar.After about a week the sugar takes on a vanilla scent and you can keep adding sugar to the 1 pod and flavouring it this way for ages. They seem to go on forever!!

Begin by washing, trimming and finely slice the rhubarb. Gently poach with a dash of water and 2 tablespoons sugar over a low heat for about 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be pretty much falling apart. Divide between 4 ramekins and set aside for later.

In a pot gently heat the cream and milk. Just before the liquid  reaches boiling point, stir in a tablespoon of vanilla sugar and  turn off the heat. Allow the milk and cream to cool down then return to the heat and begin slowly reheating again. In a separate dish beat the egg yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. When the milk and cream are just reaching boiling point pour in the eggs and sugar whisking well as you go then  turn off the heat. Pour the custard over the 4 ramekins through a sieve. Half fill a baking tray with boiling water. Set the dishes on the tray. Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes or until  lightly set.

Allow to cool down then either serve or cover and put in the fridge for later (they’ll keep for up to 3 days).

To serve sprinkle each one with about 1 tablespoon of sugar and if you have a blow torch come forward but if you don’t just  put them under a very hot grill until the sugar has melted. Serve immediately.

This week’s rainbow chard can be used like any greens – wilted with olive and garlic is an obvious way to go. I think I’ll do mine with pasta and black olives ..

This week’s leaves are mizuna and make lovely salads

Have a great weekend,



2 Responses to “Dessert recipes – Orange and Almond Cake with a Mascarpone and Vanilla topping and Rhubarb Creme Brulee”

  1. Dani Says:

    Wow! That orange cake is completely delish – thanks for the recipe. Really easy too!

  2. Dara Says:

    That orange cake was delicious. Thanks Sarah

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