For a fair while in my adult life I wondered what these “mimosas” that I kept hearing about – usually in relation to American brunches – were. It was only a year or two ago that I discovered it was nothing more than ordinary Buck’s Fizz – the official drink of Christmas morning here in the UK. I think I’ve decided to use the terms seasonally – Mimosa during warmer months, Buck’s Fizz when it’s colder. Either way, the deliciously refreshing mixture of sweet oranges and sparkling wine is a winning combination, and I one that I thought deserved to be spread a little further.
The cake itself here is a Greek/Middle-Eastern inspired affair – a single layer yoghurt based cake that has syrup poured all over it. The sponge absorbs the syrup, making it a silky, rich, moist delight. In this particular case – the cake is flavoured with juice and zest, the syrup made with sparkling wine and orange peel, and then the whole thing is iced with sparkling wine icing. Each mouthful of this thing is a pure delight, and I cannot stress enough how much you need to make it.
Ingredients – for one 23cm cake
For the sponge
- 3 eggs
- 220g caster sugar
- 2 oranges
- 300g self raising flour or 300g plain flour + 3/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 280g Greek Yoghurt
- 125ml oil (flavourless, e.g. sunflower/vegetable/rapeseed)
For the syrup and icing
- 140g Caster Sugar
- 100ml Sparkling wine
- 1 orange
- 50g icing sugar
- A few tsp sparkling wine
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a 23cm cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides and parchment with a little butter or oil.
- Using an electric mixer/whisk, beat together the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until creamy. Add the zest and juice of 2 oranges and beat for a minute or two more.
- Whisk in the flour, oil and yoghurt until smooth and no lumps of flour remain.
- Pour into the cake tin and bake. Check at 40 minutes by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean it is ready. If not, continue to bake and check at 5 minute intervals.
- While it bakes it is time to make the syrup and icing. For the syrup, pour the caster sugar and sparkling wine into a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Use a potato peeler to peel a few pieces off of an orange and slice into thin strips, adding them to the pan. Heat at a very gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes, then allow to cool.
- When the cake is ready, remove from the tin and parchment, then place on a large plate. Poke 20-30 holes in the top of the cake with a skewer, then gently pour over the syrup – leave the orange peel strips in the pan. Don’t be alarmed if it seems like there’s too much and it’s pooling around the bottom – it will soon be soaked up as the cake cools.
- When the cake has cooled thoroughly, combine the icing sugar and a spoonful of sparkling wine at a time until you have a sufficiently thick yet liquid icing. Pour the onto the centre of the top and use the back of a spoon to encourage even coverage, then careful place a mound of the orange peel strips onto the centre.
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.