Spring is in the air and the garden full of tiny flowers, beautiful blossom, and a green haze hovers over the trees. As morning sun pours through the windows l have an overwhelming desire to bake, allowing my stack of errands to take second place.

Luck is on my side regarding ingredients:recent guests brought oranges with them, but these are not ordinary specimens, these were just days old and freshly harvested from their daughter’s Portuguese garden. My other fortunate find were eggs. Fresh, free range duck eggs to be precise, with their rich, deep orange coloured yolk. There was just one thing I could make: a refreshing orange cake to welcome spring into my home!

The recipe is based on a victoria sponge which uses the creaming method of making: equal weights of butter and caster sugar are creamed together, and then the same quantity of egg is beaten into the mixture, ending with self-raising flour being folded in. As duck eggs are larger than hens I simply jiggled about with quantities which would also allow for the addition of freshly squeezed orange juice, resulting in a fragrant and feather light sponge, fresh from the oven.

Duck Egg Orange Cake

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 duck eggs
  • Zest of an orange, finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ orange (reserve remaining juice for filling and topping)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder

Filling

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • Zest of ½ orange finely chopped
  • Orange juice (reserved from cake)

Icing

  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • Orange juice (reserved from cake and filling)

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C, gas mark 4.Grease and line 2 x 20cm round sandwich cake tins (shallow tins).

Cake:

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time followed by the orange zest and juice. If the mixture begins to separate (curdle), then add a tablespoon of flour, taken from your weighed amount, which will help to re-stabilise the mixture.

3. With a metal spoon or spatula and using a cutting action, fold in the flour.

Place half of the mixture in each of the prepared tins and quickly smooth out with a knife.

4. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes until the cake is golden and springs back when you gently touch the surface. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack until cold.

Filling:

Cream together the butter, icing sugar and orange zest until pale anf fluffy, adding a tablespoon or so of orange juice to make a spreading consistancy. Spread on the inside of the first cake then sandwich the two together.

Icing:

Mix together the icing sugar, remaining orange zest and sufficient orange juice to make a stiff dropping consistancy and spread over the surface of the finished cake.

NB: If you don't have duck eggs, use large hens eggs instead.