There’s no sitting on the fence with licorice, you either love it or hate it. Mind you, I didn’t care much for it as a child but have come to love it’s aniseedy flavour, softened and mellowed as it is in this richly textured ice cream that we put on the menus most years at this time when the blood oranges are really good.
The cake is a variation on a basic type that we use a lot, and is essentially a shallow cake made from polenta and almonds that is drenched in fruit syrup when it comes out of the oven. A great foil for fruit salads, ice creams or flavoured yoghurt.
If you just want to make the ice cream, serve it with some biscotti or shortbread, and a shot glass of blood orange on the side.
Put the milk and licorice in a pan, and bring slowly to a boil. Blend with a stick blender, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for thirty minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Strain the licorice milk through a sieve into the egg mix. Heat this custard gently for ten minutes or so, stirring all the time, until it has thickened slightly, then cool it completely. Stir in the cream, and freeze the custard using an ice cream machine.
Heat an oven to 180c/350f, and line a shallow cake tin.
Melt the butter and caster sugar, and stir in the zest. Whisk the eggs briefly, then whisk the butter & sugar mix into the eggs. Sift the flour, maize, almonds and baking powder together, then fold this into the batter. Pour this into the tin and arrange the blood oranges slices on top.
Bake the cake in the oven for 30 minutes until firm. When it is done, prick it all over with a fork. Warm the muscovado sugar with the citrus juice, then pour this all over the cake. Leave to cool to room temperature before slicing.