Blood Orange and Pistachio Cake
Celebrate blood orange season with this moist, delicious Blood Orange and Pistachio Cake. It’s a sophisticated sponge cake perfect for any occasion.
Baking with blood oranges
The second blood oranges appear in the shops I buy them. Their blush red flesh is enough to catch anyone’s attention but it’s the subtly sweet orange flavour with a hint of grapefruit and cherry that drives me wild.
They are just a better version of the humble orange.
Much like a regular orange they are incredibly versatile. They can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes but their red colouring makes them perfect for bakes like my Blood Orange & Pistachio Cake. But first, let’s look at blood oranges in a little more detail.
When are blood oranges in season?
The blood orange season is incredibly short which is why people get so excited about their arrival in the shops. You will only find them at the end of winter – between January and March to be precise. You can enjoy them at any time throughout this period.
How are blood oranges different to regular oranges?
Blood oranges are a mutation of the orange we all know and love. The dark colouring is caused by the same pigment that creates purple cauliflowers, blueberries and raspberries!
What causes this pigmentation to form is for the temperature to drop roughly 20°C, as low as -1 or -2°C for at least an hour.
Where are blood oranges from?
There are 3 main varieties: the ‘Tarocco’ (grown in Italy), the ‘Sanguinello’ (grown in Spain), and the ‘Moro’ (which is grown in Sicily).
What flavours go with blood orange?
You can use blood oranges in sweet and savoury dishes. If you are a meat eater, blood oranges unsurprisingly go well with duck but also with pork. Creamy cheeses like mozzarella or salty cheese like feta also pair well.
Blood oranges can also be enhanced with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios are a good contrast in both flavour and texture.
If you don’t have pistachios easily to hand you could easily swap them out of this recipe for almonds or hazelnuts.
In this Blood Orange and Pistachio Cake, I’ve really made the most of the fruit. The sponge is infused with both the juice and zest of a blood orange and then thin slices of beautiful blood oranges are used to decorate the top.
I wanted to honour the blood orange’s Italian roots so the basic sponge cake is an olive oil cake. It has a delicious moist and tender crumb and is slightly sticky to the touch. Because it’s a such a sweet treat all on its own, a simple drizzling of blood orange icing is all you need.
A scattering of chopped pistachios both inside the cake batter and on top give a satisfying crunch. As does the crystalised rosemary delicately placed on top.
Blood Orange and Pistachio Cake
- 1 x 6 inch circular cake tin
For the cake
To bake the cake
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C / 356F.
- Line the bottom and sides of your 6" cake tin with grease proof paper and place to one side.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple sauce, soy milk and the juice of the blood orange.
- Sieve the flour into the bowl then add the sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, zest of the blood orange and the pistachios.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and bake for 45 or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Then, remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing
- Sift your icing sugar into a bowl then add the blood orange juice until it is a drizzling consistency.
- If it is too thick, add a little more blood orange juice. If it is too runny add a little more icing sugar.
- Once the cake is completely cooled, drizzle with the icing.
- Lay a couple of slices of blood orange on top and sprinkle over the chopped pistachios.
More egg-free and dairy-free cakes
For more information about egg-free and dairy-free baking, check out the big vegan baking guide.
If you’ve loved this vegan cake recipe then you might also like these recipes:
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Scale it up or down
If you want to make this (or any) cake bigger, or smaller, you’ll need to do some maths. With the steps set out in this post you will also be able to convert the recipe to make it in a square tin.