An Abundance Of Oranges .....“The Lemon groves and the Orange gardens were entirely perfect.” Oscar Wilde, on his stay in Sicily
There are around 67,000 hectares of orange groves in Sicily, 70 per cent grow blood oranges during the growing season which is January to May.
The groves in Sicily have a unique microclimate provided by Mount Etna. Warm days, cool nights and fertile volcanic soil allow Sicilians to produce what many say are the best oranges in the world.
Oranges have been cultivated in Sicily since ancient times, and cultivation has been documented since the time of Moorish rule. Whilst the Arabs are credited with originally planting the bitter orange trees in Sicily, the Genovese and Portuguese crusaders introduced sweeter varieties in the 15th century.
Having a home in Sicily and particularly living near Mount Etna we always have an ‘abundance of oranges’ and are completely surrounded by orange trees everywhere we go.
I can remember on our first trip to Sicily sitting on the terrace of La Botte restaurant in Taormina enjoying an evening meal when a rogue orange fell out of the tree we were sitting under and hit my husband on the head, maybe it was a sign that we were destined to return.
As with lemons friends will often arrive at our home with bags full of oranges and we always put them to full use.
Obviously we squeeze them in a citrus juicer to make the most wonderful juice for breakfast. But I love to make Sicilian Orange Cake, I always use a recipe by Rick Stein who featured Sicilian Orange Cake in his television series and book Mediterranean Escapes.
Why not give it a try yourself, as Rick Stein says ….. “it has to be one of the most richest, moistest, butteriest and yet lightest orange cakes in the world”.
Sicilian Orange Cake
250g lightly salted butter at room temperature250g caster sugar4 medium eggs1 ½ teaspoons of grated Sicilian orange zest250g self-raising flour85ml of freshly squeezed Sicilian orange juice
For the Icing: 125g icing sugar and 5 teaspoons of freshly squeezed Sicilian orange juice
Preheat the Oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 22cm clip-sided round cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating very well between each one, if necessary adding a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Beat in the Sicilian orange zest. Add the flour all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.Leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack, then carefully remove from the tin.
For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency. Spread it over the top of the cake and leave to set.
Buon appetito …..
If you loved this why not read our post “an abundance of Lemons” from December 2014 which includes the recipe for Sicilian Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf.
There are many cookery classes in Taormina and the Mount Etna area .... email us for booking and our recommendations [email protected]
.... Bags of Oranges
"an abundance of Oranges"
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White Almond Private Sicily
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