Chocolate & Orange Loaf Cake with Homemade Candied Peel!!

This is the post I'm most excited to share with you this month (and possibly this whole year), I wanted to create a luxurious, chocolatey, citrusy Christmas-inspired cake that you could sink into the couch with and devour either on your own or with everyone you love, and I hope you'll agree that this recipe carries that off pretty well! I started out with an idea for a classic Christmas combo; chocolate and orange, that developed into me loading it with chocolate chips so it would be extra chocolatey and then I decided to challenge myself and try and make my own candied peel...well let me tell you that this is my third attempt at making candied orange peel and I think I've finally cracked it! This is a full recipe for the cake and peel but I'm also going to post out the peel recipe as a separate recipe on Christmas eve in case you just want to make that on its own.

Serves 6

Candied Peel: 
1 Orange 
Granulated Sugar (measurement in method) 
3 tbsp Granulated Sugar, for coating 

Loaf Cake: 
225g Butter, softened 
225g Caster Sugar 
4 Eggs
225g Self Raising Flour 
2 tbsp Milk 
3 tbsp Cocoa Powder 
1 Orange, for zest and juice 
250g-300g Chocolate Chips (I used 3 bags from my local supermarket) 

We start by making the candied peel. First, gently remove the peel from an orange, I sliced it from one end to the other on opposite sides and then ran my finger around the cut until I could get under the peel and rip it off in two clean pieces. I then found it easier to half the peel again and cut with the white side (pith) facing up, slicing them into long half-inch wide pieces, but it doesn't matter if they're different lengths it all adds to the homemade feel! 

Put the peel in a small saucepan with cold water until the water fully covers the peel, turn on to medium-low and let this come to a boil, once the water is boiling, turn it down to low and let the peel simmer for 5 mins. Afterward, strain the peel to get all the water out. 

Repeat this process, but when it comes to simmering, leave the peel to simmer for 30 mins to make sure we give it lots of time to soften. After it's simmered strain into a measuring jug, it's really important that we don't throw the water away this time! 
Set the peel aside for a minute. 
In your measuring jug add 100g of granulated sugar for every 100ml of water (I had about 500ml), pour the sugar water back into the saucepan, and heat this through on low until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
Tip the peel back into the sugar water and leave it on low for 30 mins until soft and the pith is translucent. Then set aside in the pan until cool.  

Whilst the peel cools down we'll start on our cake! Heat the oven to 180C/ 160 Fan/ Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a loaf tin. 
In a large bowl beat together butter, caster sugar, eggs, and flour until you have a thick batter. 

Pour in the cocoa powder, milk, orange zest, and juice, and 2 bags of chocolate chips (we need one bag for later), whisk this all together until you have a looser dark batter with no lumps. 

Now, pour the batter into your loaf tin and use half of our spare bag of chocolate chips to sprinkle on top, this is optional I just liked the idea of these melted on the top! Now put in the oven to bake for 45-55 mins until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Now back to our candied peel! If cool, strain the water away and arrange them on a baking tray. You're probably going to get a well-deserved break now whilst the cake bakes because we need the oven again, if you do have a free oven set it on its lowest temperature and bake the peel for 30 mins to dry it out. 

Your cake and peel should be done now (hopefully). Leave the cake in its tin to cool for about 20 mins before removing it from its tin and we'll finish off the peel. Put the peel in a small bowl with 3 tbsp of granulated sugar, gently shake the peel around to fully coat it in sugar, and then lay them back on the baking tray to air-dry for around an hour. 

Have a break whilst the cake cools and the peel sets then we're on the last step! In a small mug or microwave-safe bowl put in our remaining chocolate chips and melt them on high, checking every 20 seconds until the chips have fully melted, give it a stir with a teaspoon to make sure it's really smooth. Take around 6-8 slices of the candied peel and dip one end into the chocolate, set this aside for a moment, drizzle the rest of your chocolate over the cake then arrange the candied peel on top! 

Congratulations you completed this mammoth recipe and I hope you've got a beautiful chocolate and orange cake and some incredible candied peel that you can show off to all your loved ones! This is a multi-tasking recipe that takes around 3 hours overall so it's one for those of us that are looking for a challenge but I genuinely enjoyed making it and I don't think the individual steps themselves are complicated at all it's just the sheer number of them! One of the biggest things I noticed whilst making the recipe was that my house filled up with the smell of fresh orange...and isn't that what we all want over Christmas?! maybe not for some, but I loved it! 

I hope the cake was gone in one evening but if not, it should last another 2 days before it goes stale...and even then just chuck it in the microwave with some custard and you're all good! But even better, the candied peel should last up to a month when stored in an air-tight container, I'm planning to use more in my last bits of Christmas baking (I'll post that on my Instagram page) and take the rest for my parents to try! 
I'm really proud of what I created here, I think it'll be something I come back to over the years, if not just for the candied peel, it's a solid cake recipe and can be adapted to add any Christmas flavours you like, you could use cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice, or add cranberries and nuts instead of (or as well as) chocolate chips. All I'm trying to say is, I think I'm gonna have fun changing and adapting this recipe for many Christmases to come and I hope you find time in the next few very busy days to maybe have a go for yourself! 

Only 5 days until Christmas! 

H x