Orange and Almond Cake
When you Google “Orange and Almond cake”, Claudia Roden’s version from her book “A Book of Middle Eastern Food”, feels like it’s referenced all over the internet and for good reason. What is not to like about a cake that uses ALL of an orange and only requires a few ingredients. The only thing that put me off trying the recipe was the idea of boiling oranges for 2 hours. So then along came the recipe on Jo’s Kitchen Larder which introduced the idea of microwaving the oranges and suddenly this cake became even more accessible. I’ve tweaked the recipe to suit my preferred level of sweetness and give the option of adding orange blossom water to add an extra dimension to the cake. I also really like the fact that the cake can be pretty much made by just blending everything together in a food process or blender. If you don’t have either of those, you will have to chop the orange into very tiny pieces and everything else can be mixed through with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2 navel oranges (approx. 360g)
5 eggs (approx. 60g each)
180g caster sugar
230g almond meal
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2-3/4 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
20g whole almonds, roughly chopped (can be done with a mini food processor) OR you can use flaked almonds
Cook the oranges by cutting a small cross on the top of each orange (this is to stop it exploding) and placing it in a microwave safe bowl. Add water half way up the oranges and cover the bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 13 minutes (my microwave is 1100W). Drain the water and set the oranges aside to cool down. This step can be done 1-2 days ahead of when you want to bake the cake. I just leave the oranges in the fridge till I need them.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan forced) and generously grease a 19cm springform tin with butter and line the base with baking paper.
Cut the orange into quarters to check for pips (you need to remove those) before placing the oranges in a food processor or blender (I use a Vitamix) and process till you get a puree. I don’t mind tiny chunks of orange peel but you want to avoid big chunks because it can be very overpowering when you bite into large bits of peel. Add the sugar, eggs and orange blossom water (optional) and blend everything together.
In a separate bowl, mix the almond meal, salt and baking powder together before adding the dry ingredients into the food processor/blender. Use the pulse function to just mix everything together (if you over blend it, the almond meal can release too much oil). I usually like to give it a stir with a spatula or wooden spoon before I pour the batter into the cake tin.
Scatter the chopped almonds or flaked almonds all over the top of the cake. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes – depending on the setting of your oven, it doesn’t hurt to start checking for doneness from 50 minutes but it can also take longer than 60 minutes. Best thing to do is to test with a skewer in the centre of the cake. You can also press down gently on the middle, it shouldn’t feel liquidy or mushy. If the cake is browning too much, just lightly cover it with a piece of foil.
Remove from the oven and allow the cake to rest in the springform pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to finish cooling off.
I serve this cake with thickened cream whipped with orange blossom water, icing sugar and orange zest.
- In this recipe, I’ve given the weight of the ingredients I used but how juicy your oranges are and how old your almond meal is can affect how wet this batter is. If you’re concerned after mixing everything together that it seems very liquidy, you can add an extra 20-30g of almond meal. I’ve also see people add a little plain flour to thicken up the batter but it’ll change the texture of the cake. This is a moist and closed crumb cake – this is not going to be like a sponge cake.
- You can use chopped whole almonds to decorate the top of the cake – they get toasted whilst the cake is baking in the oven and you end up with a little bit of crunch with each bite of cake. Flaked almonds are another option but because I don’t always have them in the fridge I wanted to give an alternative.
- Sometimes despite greasing the pan, the cake doesn’t pull away easily so I like to carefully run a palette knife around the edges to loosen the cake before releasing the springform tin (you could also line the sides with baking paper but I’m too lazy for that).