Some time ago, with a number of guests on their way and no plan for dessert, I hastily baked this take on a butter cake. Adding a little Persian zing to the batter elevated it to a new level: doused in orange syrup and topped with orange zest and pistachio nuts, this impromptu dessert was a massive hit - and it has been my go-to last-minute dessert ever since.
For the syrup:
- 225g (1 and 3⁄4 cups) plain flour
- juice and zest of an orange - approximately 60ml (4 tbsp)
- 5g (1 and 1⁄4 tsp) baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 225g (1 cup and 2 tbsp) caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- juice and rind of 4 oranges approximately 250ml (1 cup) orange juice
- 60g (1⁄2 cup) chopped pistachios
- 125ml (1⁄2 cup) water
- 150g (3⁄4 cup) caster sugarl
Grease or line a 23 cm (9 inch) cake tin. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
For the sponge, pour all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat for 4 minutes using an electric mixer. Transfer into the tin.
Bake for 50 minutes or until it springs back to the touch and is lightly golden.
To make the syrup, cut thin pieces of orange peel using an orange zester or a knife. Try to cut it so as to have as little pith as possible, as this will impart a bitter flavour.
Boil the rinds for two minutes, strain, then soak in cold water for 5 minutes.
Strain a second time and reserve.
On a medium heat, simmer the sugar, orange juice and water for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the rind and the crushed pistachio nuts then set aside to cool.
While the cake is hot and still in the tin, pour the cooled syrup on top, placing it in a dish to make sure the syrup doesn’t leak.
Set aside for 30 minutes for the syrup to soak in.