Blood Orange & Poppy Seed Cake

The colour of blood oranges is deep, rich and often not what you would expect when you cut into this lovely citrus.  I find the stronger flavour and more intense aroma of blood oranges lend a nice twist to a well known cake.


1/2 cup (125ml) milk
1/3 cup poppy seeds
180g softened unsalted butter
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 free range eggs
finely grated zest of 3 blood oranges
1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed blood orange juice (you should easily get this out of the fruit you zest)
2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder


1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
20g unsalted butter
finely sliced rind of 2 blood oranges


First things first, preheat oven to 200°C.  and grease a 24cm round cake tin, lining the base with baking paper or dusting with flour.
Place milk in a bowl and stir in poppy seeds and let mixture stand for 20 minutes.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and pale. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Next, gently mix in zest, juice and poppyseed mixture.  Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks horrible at this stage.  It will all come together.  Sift flour and baking powder over top and fold in.  Spoon mixture into pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Depending on your oven it can take less so make sure you check from about 30 minutes so as not to overcook the cake.  Cool cake in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
While the cake is cooling, place syrup ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and butter melts.  Turn heat to high and simmer for 2 minutes.  While cake is still warm, pierce holes in top with a skewer and pour over the hot syrup and zest.  I normally do this with the cake still in the tin.  It helps keep the syrup from running everywhere.
The cake can be served warm or cold.
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