E swore that the giant mandarins were the only ones he could find in the supermarket. Sylvia wasn’t keen on them and nor was I. We like imperial mandarins, which are much smaller. (See photo.) So I decided to make cake with them. I also stumbled upon a packet of frozen cranberries at a posh supermarket and had some yoghurt that needed using. A quick internet search turned up Smitten Kitchen’s Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf.
I decided to make the loaf with mandarins and cranberries. As always I was full of good intentions to bake early on Wednesday but the day was busy and Sylvia wasn’t keen on sleeping. We had an excursion to the shopping mall to get fitted for her first pair of hard sole shoes. She still prefers her old soft Dunlop volleys that are full of holes.
In over three years of blogging, this is my first syrup cake. I dislike the idea of soaking a cake in syrup and too many of them are made with lemon juice. However this was my opportunity to use some of the mandarin juice. Mandarins are so sweet and fragrant that I thought they might taste different to lemon.
The cranberries also seemed a good idea. I rarely see fresh or frozen cranberries (probably never) so am always curious about them. When in Scotland last year I put them in a cranberry banana cake and loved it. I thought that their sourness might offset the sweetness of the cake. What I didn’t reckon on was how frozen hard they were. Blithely I tossed some cranberries in the cake without defrosting and paid the price. The cake took twice as long to bake as the recipe said.
Hence I found myself at midnight brushing the cake with syrup. I was tired and just wanted to go to bed by then. To make matters worse when I tasted the syrup it wasn’t any better than a lemon syrup. It’s all citrus, I muttered to myself, in displeasure. I found myself wondering why sour cranberries were interesting and sour lemons were distasteful.
My mind wandered back to primary school where a dental van visited our country school every so often and gave all the kids free check ups. If your teeth were good you got a butterfly made of dental cotton bud wads. But what I remember most was the cleaning treatment, which entailed sitting in the dentist chair forever with a mouthguard full of horrid orange fluid. It made me feel ill.
The cake was far better than the dental van fluid. The mandarin wasn’t as intense as I had hoped, even where the syrup was sticky at the top. The cranberries were really sour, especially those at the bottom of the cake which were not soaked in syrup, but the bursts of fruit saved the cake. I loved the moist soft crumb but it would have been too bland without cranberries. I'm glad to have made this cake but I have no desire to make syrup cakes again. Too many bad memories.
Unlike me, my mum loves lemon in desserts so I took some of the cake down to her place on the weekend. She loved it. E liked it but kept telling me it was the wrong time of day to eat it. So I left some with my mum and took away a slab of her excellent, soft, dark gingerbread cake (I have asked for the recipe). A great exchange!
We had a lovely time at my mum and dad’s place. My nieces were there and lots of fun. Mum’s chooks are quite grown up now and producing eggs. When we were little we just shooed our chooks out of the way but Ella and Grace were delighted at picking them up. We even tried to lure the chooks onto the mini trampoline with worms but they didn’t fall for it.
Woody amused us though by wearing E’s cap. Sylvia is still scared of Woody but can spend all day on the swing or pushing the doll’s stroller. She was too little to join in with the dress-ups but had fun on the piano with her cousins. I spent some time with Maddy on her latch hook project and discussed Masterchef with the girls. We stayed for dinner and had a delicious roast dinner and apple sponge. A fine way to spend the weekend.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: SHF Apricot sponge – by any other name
This time two years ago: Vegetarian Cassoulet
This time three years ago: Hubert the Hog’s Head
Cranberry Mandarin Syrup Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen
Adapted loosely from
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons grated mandarin zest (I scraped the pith off about half the skin on a giant mandarin and finely chopped it)
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1½ cups + 1 tablespoon plain white flour 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (but must be thawed if frozen)
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed mandarin juice
- 1 tbsp sugar
Lightly whisk the yoghurt, sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla and oil in a large bowl. Gently stir in 1½ cups of flour, baking powder and salt until mixed. Toss cranberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and fold into batter.
Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes or til a skewer inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. (Mine took 1 hour and 40 minutes.)
While cake is baking make the syrup by gently simmering the juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the latter has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside.
Leave cooked cake in tin for about 10 minutes – or if it takes forever to cook and comes out of the oven at an outrageously late time like mine just remove from tin earlier but be very gentle, even though patience is at low ebb at this time of night. Flip cake upright on wire rack and place a shallow oven tray beneath rack to act as a drip tray (NB I usually line a rack with a tea towel but didn’t for this cake).
Make lots of holes all over the top of the cake with a skewer and carefully pour or brush the syrup over the cake while still warm. This cake tasted excellent warm but was still soft and moist but not soggy after about 5 days.
On the stereo:
The end of the rainbow: an introduction to Richard and Linda Thompson