There’s something so Christmassy about the combination of chocolate and orange. The smell wafting through the air as this cake bakes is simple irresistible! Oranges have many connections with the Christmas season.
Placing an orange in a Christmas stocking is a long tradition and there are many different stories surrounding its origin. One explanation involves St Nicholas (a 4th century Christian saint, born in modern-day Turkey and the traditional model for Santa Claus) who aided a poor man unable to afford a dowry for his three daughters to marry. St Nicholas travelled to their house during the night and threw three sacks of gold down the chimney. The daughters had washed their stockings and hung them by the fire to dry, and thus the money landed in the stockings! The oranges are said to symbolise the money that was left in the stockings.
Another story states that during the Great Depression of the 1930s many families didn’t have the money to afford Christmas presents. Instead, it was a treat to recieve an orange, or perhaps walnuts, in your stocking on Christmas Day. Oranges were hard to come by, having to be imported from abroad and as such were rather a luxury!
The tradition of giving oranges in stockings did however proceeed this. My family are lucky enough to have some of my Grandma’s family history well documented and written down. In it, her aunt (my great-great aunt) talks about how she would recieve an orange or an apple in her Christmas stocking during her childhood in the 1870s.
The giving of oranges is a way of celebrating generosity and I think it is a lovely, heart-warming tradition, especially in our modern world. Is it a tradition that you follow? Let me know in the comments!
This chocolate orange loaf is simple to make and nice to eat as a treat in the run-up to Christmas. The icing is, of course, entirely optional. Indeed, I wouldn’t normalyl put icing on top of a loaf cake, but as it’s nearly Christmas, I decided to be decadent.
Chocolate and Orange Loaf Cake
- 225g flour
- 3tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 80g brown sugar
- zest and juice of 1 1/2 oranges
- 1 egg
- 120ml plain yogurt
- 15ml vegetable oil
For the icing:
- juice and zest of 1/2 orange
- 2tbsp icing sugar
- Optional: a few dried cranberries
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c and line a loaf tin
- Mix together the flour, cocoa power, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- In a seperate bowl whisk the egg, sugar, yogurt, oil and orange zest and juice
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just incorporated
- Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 40 minutes
- Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes and then move to a cooling rack until cool
- Mix the orange juice and zest with the icing sugar and, when the cake is completely cool, drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle a few dried cramberries over the top if desired