A Blood Orange Cake for St Dwynwen’s Day
On the 25th of January every year, people in Wales celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Kind of like the Welsh version of Valentine’s Day, I first heard about it from my husband John, as the story of Dywnwen comes from Anglesey, the island where he spent his childhood.
The story, which goes back to the 5th century, says that the princess fell in love with someone but her father had someone else in mind so she was never allowed to marry. She ended up devoting her life to god, and the remains of her church can still be found on Llanddwyn island, one of my very favourite beaches.
Whether or not you’re into Welsh legends, this frozen treat of a cake makes a spectacular dessert at this time of year.
This is a no-cook cake, raw in fact if you are into that kind of thing; I use the freezer to set the cake instead of the oven. These cakes are sometimes called ice-box cakes, which I think sounds quite magical. It’s the kind of dessert I like to eat in January.I use a raw cashew butter here, which I buy from the supermarket, though if I have time I make it at home, as the flavour is gentler than the toasted nut butters you can buy and it has notes of white chocolate. Any more subtly flavoured nut butter would work here.
FOR THE CRUST
25g cashew nuts
coconut oil, for greasing
120g pitted Medjool dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw cacao or cocoa powder
a generous pinch of flaky sea salt
120g nut butter (I use a raw cashew butter, see note above)
125g whole buckwheat
FOR THE FILLING
70g cashew nuts
50g pitted Medjool dates
a good pinch of salt
450g ripe peeled bananas
the seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
70g coconut oil, melted
the zest and juice of 1 unwaxed blood orange
3 passion fruits, cut in half
3 blood oranges
40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
First, soak both the cashews for the filling and for the crust in separate bowls of cold water for 3–4 hours if you have time, if not then soak them in warm water for 30 minutes. Grease the bottom of a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin with coconut oil and put to one side.
Next make the crust. In a food processor, blitz the 25g of soaked, drained cashews and the dates until they have broken down into tiny pieces and start to come together in a ball. Add the vanilla, cacao, salt and nut butter and blitz until combined. Then add the buckwheat and blitz until the buckwheat has broken down a bit and the crust dough comes together in your fingers when pinched. Put the crust mixture into the middle of the greased tin and use your fingers to push it out to the edges and up the sides of the tin, then put it into the freezer to set for at least 3 hours.
Next make the filling. Put the soaked, drained cashews into a jug blender with the dates, salt, bananas and vanilla and blitz until completely smooth. Pour in the melted coconut oil, then add the orange zest and blitz again. Pour two-thirds into the chilled crust.
Scrape the seeds from the passion fruits into a sieve resting over a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push the juice through, add this to the remaining banana mixture in the blender and add the juice of the blood orange, then pour this layer over the banana one. Smooth everything over with a spatula and put the crust back in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up, though it can happily sit there for much longer.
To finish, take the tart out of the freezer about an hour before you want to eat. Cut the peel off the blood oranges and slice the flesh into thin rounds. Break the chocolate into shards.
Once the cake is thawed enough that the filling is beginning to soften, arrange the blood oranges and chocolate on top prettily and pat yourself on the back. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Image: Ana Cuba
Taken from The Modern Cook’s Year