How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Like Marmalade

11 Jan

After living in the UK for a few years, I’ve become a big fan of most British food. I’ve explained my enjoyment of puddings in a previous entry, but savoury dishes get my thumbs up too; toad-in-a-hole, haggis, and roast dinners are all wonderful, stodgy delights perfect for cold winters.

But there are two things which prevent me from claiming foodie citizenship here in the UK. One is Marmite, and the other is marmalade.

The only nice thing I can say about Marmite is that it tastes a little bit nicer than it smells. One good whiff of the stuff is enough to make me run away yelping, to be found later in a corner, rocking back and forth and clutching a large jar of peanut butter. Perhaps it’s something that you have to be raised eating, but I think any parent who foists the putrid stuff on their innocent child is mistaken at best.

On the other hand, I don’t have an aversion to marmalade. I’ve tried it multiple times, both from the shop and homemade, and love the smell of it bubbling on the stove. But every time I taste it, it’s just Not My Cup of Tea. I like oranges as much as the next person, but when the peels have been boiled for hours and cooked in sugar, it’s just too over-the-top for a palate reared on berry jam.

But T loves the tawny stuff, so last Saturday we bought a kilo of Seville oranges at Broadway Market, and he got his jam on:

T's Homemade Whisky Marmalade

Faced with this bounty, I thought that maybe I could handle the marmalade if it wasn’t the dominant flavour, if it was a hint of orangey goodness, rather than a wallop. Enter Nigel Slater and his recipe for frosted marmalade cake.

This cake is your standard pound cake, flavoured with multiple variations on the theme of orange: zest, juice, and the aforementioned marmalade. After a glazing with a mixture of icing (powdered) sugar and orange juice, it makes for a moist, tender dessert, with a distinctly orangey aroma. It’s even nicer the day after you make it.

In terms of technique, I’d not understood what it meant to “fold” something until quite recently, so if you’ve never been sure, here’s how you do it: using a spatula, draw a straight line towards you in the batter, while turning the bowl 90 degrees. No need to rush, just be thorough. Though it looks like it’s not doing anything at first, the flour will eventually mix in.

Frosted Marmalade Cake (via Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries)


175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar (golden is especially nice)
1 large orange.
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
75g orange marmalade (I used homemade of course, but use anything that you would want on your toast)
175g flour (Nigel says self-raising, but I used all-purpose and nothing bad came of it)

Making the Thing

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a load tin about 25×11 cm and 7cm deep (unless you have a heavy nonstick pan, then you can skip this step.)

Zest the orange, then juice half of it. Reserve the other half for the glaze.

Beat the butter and sugar together with a food mixer until pale and fluffy, around two minutes.

Butter and Sugar, Their Powers Combined!

While the mixer is at a moderate speed, add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating thoroughly between gos. Then beat in the marmalade and orange zest.

With a large metal spoon or a silicone spatula, fold in the flour. Then gently stir in the orange juice. Scrape into the loaf tin and smooth the top (it doesn’t have to be perfect, just mostly level. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer or the tip of a knife poked into the centre comes out with no trace of wet batter. Leave to cool in the tin for 45 minutes or so, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack or a plate.

Cooling Cake


100g icing sugar
juice of half an orange

Mix the icing sugar and the orange juice together. It will be quite a thin consistency, and be quite sweet, but with a distinct orange flavour. Pour over the cooled cake and leave to set. If you can wait that long.


One Response to “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Like Marmalade”

  1. Alana January 11, 2012 at 5:44 PM #

    Mmm, you’ve made me want to go and eat some marmite crackers, yum yum! (plus an excellent source of vitamin B!).

    I don’t really get marmalade either but I could definitely make an exception for Tom’s whisky marmalade, and mmmmmmmmm orange cake.

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