My grandparents’ home is one of my favourite places in the world. They have lived in that house all my life; it’s become the most familiar place I know. The kitchen, in particular, is special. It’s where people gravitate. It’s where we kiss ‘hello’, catch up, collaborate on the daily crossword, serve up the best home-cooked dinners, hover for warmth in front of the wood-fire oven, talk and laugh and talk some more. It’s the heart of a greater family home.
This kitchen is where my cousins and I – and surely, our parents before us – were inducted as lifelong tea-drinkers. Tea is pretty much the lifeblood of our family. As youngsters we would drink weak, milky tea from Grandma’s set of miniature porcelain tea-cups, delighting in the simple act of being invited into the oh-so-adult ritual of the cuppa. And what a precious little ritual it is. The rumble of the kettle on the wood-fire stovetop, the swirl of steeping leaves in Granny’s Bodum tea press (though she’s recently upgraded to a pot with infusion filter, ooh la la!), and the scrape of an unabashedly large souvenir teaspoon against the inside of the sugar bowl. From serious conversations to the side-splitting silly ones – they’re done best over a cup of tea in my grandparents’ kitchen.
… With a little something sweet to nibble on, of course.
My grandma is a total pro at preparing for the Hutchy horde. Come a family weekend, containers are piled high with biscuits and slices, and the freezer is stocked with even more goodies. One of my favourite things to find stashed away in that freezer is Granny’s orange cake. Admittedly, my aunty Ros has usually found it long before anyone else. Even then we must endure a torturous wait for that golden loaf of deliciousness to defrost, before snatching up a slice in a high-stakes challenge of first in, best dressed. It’s a really, really good cake.
This recipe is an original creation of Granny’s. She told me that she experimented extensively to try and get a cake that had the perfect texture, and one that wouldn’t become dry. Granny finally settled on a simple, one-bowl recipe (“no fussy creaming of the butter and sugar!”) that she uses as a base for many cakes – but this one is my favourite. The icing, especially, is divine. You’ll have a lot of fun licking the bowl on this one.
- 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 125g butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 150ml milk (approx. - depends on amount of juice from orange)
- 1 orange
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tbsp / 14g butter, melted
- 1 orange
- 1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a standard loaf pan.
- 2. Grate off the rind (be careful to avoid grating any of the white, pithy layer - this has a bitter taste), and squeeze juice from the orange.
- 3. You will only need 1 combined cup (250ml) of milk and orange juice. Adjust your milk quantity to make up 1 cup according to the amount of juice squeezed from your orange.
- 4. Combine all ingredients in one bowl. Beat with electric mixer for about 3 minutes.
- 5. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
- 6. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Do NOT begin to ice the cake until the cake is completely cooled! I learnt that one the hard way...
- 1. Grate the rind off half the orange.
- 2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add a DASH of boiling water and mix. Keep mixing in small dashes of boiling water. Do not be tempted to add more than a dash at a time; you don't want this icing to become too runny. Again, I learnt that one the hard way. If it does become too runny, simply add more icing sugar. You want a consistency that is still pretty thick, but will spread easily over the top of the cake using a butter knife.
- 3. Spread over the top of the cake. Allow to set. Enjoy!
- This cake freezes really well - make double and pop one away in the freezer for another day!