20130804-202619.jpgAgain with the  cake. Again on a Tuesday, as it happens. I don't quite know what came over me, but sitting at my desk at work, just after five, writing a list of what vegetables I needed to pick up for dinner, I found myself adding ingredients like 'cream cheese' and 'sugar' and 'dark chocolate'. Evidently I'd been spending far too much time over at Joy the Baker (again). Good thing I had too, because this cake took my week from normal to just lovely.

The recipe was an easy one, and I loved Joy's idea to flavour the sugar with the orange zest, instead of just throwing them both in the mix. I used a bowl to rub in the zest and infuse the whole pile of sugar, and have to say my hands and the kitchen smelt like sunshine (if that is even a thing). I'll definitely be using this technique again, and may even modify the recipe with greek yoghurt in place of the cream cheese, and leave out the chocolate, for a dense and zesty tea cake. Anything to get more of that zesty sugar in my life.

NOTE: I do think you need a Kitchen Aid or some kind of electric mixer for this one, to get the best blend out of the cream cheese and butter, and to give the volume to the eggs as you go.

INGREDIENTS * 2 cups of plain flour * 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder * 1/2 a teaspoon of salt * 1/2 cups of white sugar * zest of one orange * 220 grams of cream cheese (I most certainly did not use low-fat) * 175 grams of butter * 4 eggs * 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence * 1 cup of dark chocolate pieces

METHOD Pre-heat the oven to 180 or so and lightly grease and line a loaf tin. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Use another good sized bowl to blend in the zest and the sugar with the back of a spoon. I took my time with this step - mostly to make sure there was an even mix of zest and sugar - so the colour and flavour were alive throughout - but also because it smelt so damn lovely.

Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, beat the cream cheese and the just-softened butter for a few minutes. It takes a while for them to combine nicely, as they're both so thick. Add in the zesty sugar mixture and continue beating. With the setting down a little lower, add one egg at a time, waiting till each is thoroughly mixed before adding the next. Include the vanilla essence with the last egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl a little before beating for another minute. Add the dry ingredients all at once and allow to combine before folding in the dark chocolate.

The batter is lovely and thick, and will rise beautifully with all those hard-beaten eggs. Pour into the cake tin and bake for a good 50 minutes (depending on your oven). I always prefer to go low and slow, and add a little foil to the top if it is browning too early.

It's a golden, delicious cake that sure added some sunshine to my working week.