When I saw this beautiful post on Jammy Chicken last (ahem) February, it was nothing less than a sign. This winter I made marmalade for the first time, and in perhaps too much awe at my achievement, got a little carried away–come August and my pantry is still stuffed with the results of my snowy-evening activities, and in only a few months it will be citrus season again. The oddest thing is that I’ve never really liked marmalade, or eaten it much before this venture, but fortunately I’ve found that I liked my homemade versions. Even so. I’ve been needing ideas more creative than thickly layering it on toast.
Again, since this was a sign, I didn’t balk at ordering the recommended 6-inch by 3-inch cake pan required by the recipe. While it wasn’t expensive, I did hesitate a bit as my baking drawers are already overstuffed, for better or for worse. (For better or for worse indeed–it turns out 6 x 3 is the standard size pan for the top tier of a wedding cake). I realize, however, that you might wisely prefer to use a pan you already have on hand, so I’ve also tested this with an 8-inch cake pan, and I’m happy to report it worked just fine. How did I figure this out? Pardon the reference to high school algebra, but simply multiply the area of the circle (πr2, r being equal to half the diameter) by the height of your pan. While not perfect, the 8-inch pan was the closest match.
Enough of that though: Let’s eat cake!
I’ve called this a meyer lemon marmalade cake, but you could make it with any citrusy derivation–I’ve also tried it with my blood orange marmalade, and you’ll see the original recipe (from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking) uses Seville orange marmalade, the variety that is considered to make the best preserves. I can’t say, because I’ve never managed to find these bitter oranges, but there’s always next year. Point is, though, that the recipe is versatile.
My husband pronounced that this cake tastes a bit like a brioche, which obviously solidified its place in the pantheon for me. In part, because it seems to justify eating cake for breakfast. Although therefore welcome, it was an unexpected comparison, as this cake is neither kneaded or yeasted (albeit lots of butter). But while the recipe is decidedly not one for a brioche, it’s also an unusual method as far as your typical cake recipes go. Rather than creaming in the butter with the sugar, you cut in the cold butter, much like making a scone or even a pie crust. (This leads me to believe the initial step could be performed in your food processor, though I admit I haven’t tested that). Maybe that’s what makes it so good first thing in the morning as late afternoon. It’s like a giant (buttery moist) scone!
I still have a real clutch of jars from last winter’s activities, so I’ll be continuing to make this cake, and slathering it with more marmalade, probably with increasing frequency as the citrus season approaches. Because I know full well I’ll be getting myself in the same marmalade-laden boat next winter.
More Darina Allen on Three Clever Sisters:
- 2¾ cups flour
- 10T butter (about ⅔ cup) plus more for buttering the cake pan
- ¾c sugar
- 1 level tablespoon+ 1 generous teaspoonful of baking powder (note that a tablespoon equals three teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon + 1 generous pinch of kosher salt
- heaping ¼c marmalade–chopped into small bits if needed, or whizzed in the food processor.
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- powdered sugar for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease the tin (or use cooking spray).
- Rub the butter into the flour and salt until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly and sandy with some pea-sized pieces, then stir in the sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and marmalade until combined, then stir in the milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick and spoonable rather than pourable.
- Scrape into the cake tin, smooth out the top, and bake in the oven for 75 minutes until the top is browned and a cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs. (If you use a different-sized pan, the time may need to be adjusted).
- Leave to cool on a wire tray, and dust with powdered sugar to serve. Put out your jar of marmalade alongside as well.