In south eastern Australia, winter’s sweetest surprise is the citrus harvest: oranges, lemons and limes hang on the trees like bright jewels against the grey sky, waiting to be harvested for fresh juices, sweet treats and savoury delights.

This easy tray bake contrasts the rich decadence of dark chocolate with the sweet fresh taste of Valencia oranges. These are a versatile seedless variety producing abundant fruit in a cold climate if well fertilised each season, mulched, and watered during dry hot weather. A simple apple and yoghurt cake is baked, then pricked all over and drenched with orange syrup. A rich dark chocolate ganache is spread on top and finished with glazed orange segments to create a spectacular winter treat.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 8 slices

For cake base:
2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped into 1 cm pieces
1/2 cup fat free strained greek style yoghurt
3/4 cup raw caster sugar
3 large fresh free range eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Grated rind of one orange
1 tbsp orange juice

For syrup and garnish:
100ml orange juice
200g caster sugar
1 large or 2 small peeled and segmented seedless Valencia oranges

For ganache:
200g dark chocolate, melted
90g reduced fat butter, melted

METHOD

Bake the cake: Grease and line a 16cm x 26cm x 3.5cm rectangular baking pan and preheat oven to 170C fan forced; place oven rack in centre position. Peel and core apples and cut into 1cm pieces, place in acidulated water. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat together yoghurt, sugar and eggs until frothy. Stir in vanilla, orange juice and rind. Gradually fold in sifted baking powder and flour. Lastly fold in strained apple pieces. Hint: lightly dusting the apples in flour before folding into the batter will help suspend them during cooking so they don’t sink to the bottom. Pour batter into pan and level off. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes until risen and light golden brown. A skewer will come out cleanly when the cake is ready. Pierce the cake all over with the skewer, ready to soak in the orange syrup. When completely cooled, remove from baking pan and set onto a lined tray.

Make the syrup and garnish: Peel and segment the orange, removing all pith and cutting out only the flesh from each segment. Arrange closely onto non stick baking paper on a baking tray. Combine sugar and strained juice in a heavy based deep saucepan; hook a sugar thermometer onto the saucepan; stir over a low heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Increase heat and boil to a syrup temperature of 110C, or until large glassy bubbles form. Immediately drizzle half the syrup over orange segments and set aside to cool completely. Pour the other half evenly over the cake and allow to cool.

Make the ganache: Stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate and butter slowly in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water – do not allow the bowl to touch the water. Remove from heat and allow to cool until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally.

Assembly: Spread the ganache over the cake, creating a smooth and glossy surface. Pick each orange segment up with a toothpick and place gently on the ganache; distribute evenly. To serve: cut the tray bake diagonally across the short edge, alternating cuts from the left and right sides to create 16cm x 5cm wedges. If desired, serve with thick cream or vanilla yoghurt.

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Valencia seedless oranges are harvested at their juicy sweetest on a cold winter’s morning

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Chopped Granny Smith apples are placed in acidulated water to avoid browning while the cake mix is prepared

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Clockwise from left: vanilla bean paste, free range eggs, raw caster sugar, unbleached self raising flour, strained fat-free greek style yoghurt.

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
To test if the cake is baked a skewer should come out clean; then pierce the cake all over, this will help it to absorb the orange syrup.

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Boil the orange juice and sugar to a syrup stage: at 110C.

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Pour half the syrup over the lightly poached orange segments on a lined baking sheet to cool and set. Pour the other half over the cake.

Dark chocolate and orange Jaffa Tray Bake
Gently place each orange segment on the ganache after it has cooled and set. Serve cut into long, narrow wedges – makes it look elegant on a white plate!