No, bells don’t go off every time I bite into a slice and while the British nursery rhyme may be loaded with sexual, historical and political insinuation, this is just a simple cake that is damned near divine for its beguiling scent and moist, tender crumb, studded with fresh orange slices, rind and all. As you close your mouth down on a forkful, your palate and nose are hit with, in quick succession, the sweet, juicy burst of orange, then the sharp spike of lemon and finally, the softly alluring and warm perfume of real vanilla. Edible aroma therapy that’s absolutely blissful with a cup of good black or milky tea. For the cup measurements, I use a standard teacup, not a proper measuring cup which will yield different results. I kept breaking my measuring cups and finally gave up buying them. Everyone’s got a teacup though, right? Makes sense, don’t you think? When measuring the flour, don’t pack it down and all will be well. Choose fresh looking fruit with no blemishes on the skin that feel soft all over when gently squeezed. This is an indication of juiciness.

Preparation:  15 mins   Cook:  45 mins   Serves:  6 – 8

150 g (1½ levelled teacups) all purpose flour           
1 levelled tsp baking powder                   
150 g (1 packed, levelled teacup) soft butter                    
150 g (1 levelled teacup) caster sugar                   
2 eggs                       
1 large Navel orange (about 300 g), cut off top, quarter, slice paper thin
2 tsp pure vanilla extract               
The juice of 1 small, juicy lemon           
100 g (1 lightly packed, levelled teacup) sifted icing (confectioner’s) sugar       

  • Preheat the oven at 180˚ C (Gas mark 5 / 350˚ F) and thoroughly grease a 23-cm (9-in) round cake tin. Combine the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk till well mixed.
  • Put butter into another large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon till it loosens up. Add the sugar and continue to beat till pale and fluffy. This should take about 4 minutes.
  • Add an egg and beat in till completely incorporated, before beating in the second egg. When well combined, sift in half the flour and stir in gently but thoroughly until there are no pockets of unmixed flour. Repeat with the remaining flour.
  • Add the thinly sliced orange and vanilla to the batter and mix in gently but thoroughly. Transfer batter to tin and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out of the cake free of batter and the edge of the cake starts pulling away from the tin.
  • Wait 5 minutes then run a knife round the cake edge before turning out onto a cake rack.  Put a flat, large plate on the cake bottom and with one hand slid under the rack and the other on the plate, quickly flip the lot over. You should now have the cake on the plate, top up.
  • Put the icing sugar into a roomy bowl then whisk in the lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Spoon this mixture evenly over the warm cake. Allow cake to cool before cutting.