Sticky Citrus Sponge Cake

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I found this lovely recipe of BBC Good Food .  Certainly reading the recipe and looking at the photo I was impressed.  The idea of a sponge cake, flavoured with orange zest and chopped pieces, topped with more orange, this time slices, and coated in golden syrup sound simply wonderful. With the syrup and the ground almonds included you cannot expect the cake to be as light as a Victoria Sponge, but it should still be delicious.

It is also a simple recipe to follow, since most of the ingredients go into the bowl at the same time, for mixing. The only ones that don’t are put straight into the cake tin, the golden syrup and the orange slices.  The recipe called for a 23cm round cake tin, which I dont have, but some research convinced me that for the amount of mixture fitting into a 23cm round tin a 20cm/8inch square tin is just as good.  So the 8 inch square tin is what I used.  The lovely aroma of orange filled the room as the baked, whetting the appetite well and truly.

The only thing about the recipe on BBC Good Food that I was not happy with was an instruction to make a deep hollow in the centre of the batter, once it is in the tin.  The purpose is to stop the centre rising too high. The instruction was far too vague, so I opted to try a different solution to get an level-ish cake.  I wrapped to layers of brown paper on the outside of the cake tin.  That stops the outside of the cake cooking to quickly and, thereby, not rising. It should therefor allow the ouside edges of the cake to rise nicely, to about the same level as the centre.  As you can see from the photo below, my plan with paper worked out just fine.  I am very pleased indeed.

Sticky Citrus Sponge Cake


  • 4 medium oranges
  • 6 tbsp golden syrup, plus extra to serve, optional
  • 200g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C/fan/gas 4/350F. Grease a 23cm round cake tin or a 20cm square cake tin
  2. Finely grate the zest from 2 oranges into a large bowl. 
  3. Cut the peel and pith from all the oranges with a serrated knife, and slice quite thickly.
  4. Drizzle the golden syrup evenly over the base of the cake tin. There is no need to line the tin and it shouldn’t have a loose bottom otherwise the syrup will bubble through. 
  5. Arrange the best orange slices on top of the syrup and finely chop any that don’t fit.
  6. Put all the remaining ingredients in the bowl with the zest and chopped orange. 
  7. Beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Spoon on top of the oranges, spread lightly and make a deep hollow in the centre of the mix with the back of a spoon – this will ensure that the cake rises evenly.(For my cake I didn’t make the hollow I simply wrapped the tin in two layer of brown paper.)
  8. Bake for 45-50 mins until firm when pressed. 
  9. Allow to settle for 5 mins before turning out. Drizzle with golden syrup if you like, and serve with custard or ice cream.

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