Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orange Almond Cake

Please ignore the crack. I didn’t drop it, exactly; it flopped onto the counter in a funny way as I was attempting to ease it off my cooling rack. The resultant break did nothing to diminish the flavor of the cake, nor my enjoyment of it … but it did make photography a bit of a challenge.

This was so tasty I had to share it anyway. It’s a first for me in that it’s a gluten free recipe. I didn’t make it for that reason – neither I nor the husband need restrict our intake of wheat protein – but rather, because I thought this might combine the virtues of Shaker Lemon Tart and amaretti in one recipe. It calls for whole oranges and ground almonds. You bind it with egg, sweeten with sugar, and leaven with baking powder. I added a bit of vanilla, but that’s it. Really, this is a ridiculously simple conceit for a recipe.
This cake is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Clementine Cake. I love clementines, but I love them raw; I can’t imagine eating them baked into something. Oranges, on the other hand, are heaven in all sorts of confections.

I didn’t want a huge cake, as I’m baking for a two-person household, so I scaled back the ingredient quantities. That makes this more of an “inspired by” dish than a faithful adaptation.

As with Shaker Lemon Tart, I think this is worth spending the extra dollar or so for organic fruit. The idea of eating non-organic citrus peel wigs me out.

Husband was over the moon about this cake. It’s sweet but not over sweet, and almond and orange are one of the classic flavor combinations – you really can’t go wrong. Because one uses ground almonds in place of flour, it also retains its moisture very, very well. The cake was as good as fresh after five days in the fridge, at which point we finally polished it off.

I’ll definitely be making it again. If you have a good food processor, it’s really the easiest thing to pull together.

Orange Almond Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson

2 oranges (about ¾ of a pound total weight) -- use juice oranges for best results; thick-skinned oranges may be too bitter
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups ground almonds (I used dry toasted almonds from Trader Joe’s and ground them in my food processor before pureeing the oranges)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla or scraped seeds of half a vanilla pod (optional but recommended)

Put the oranges in a pot with cold water covering them, bring to a boil, and cook for two hours. Check the pot occasionally to be sure you’re not running out of water – I had to refill my pot a couple of times.

Drain. When cool, quarter the oranges and remove the seeds. Then chop the skins, pith, and fruit in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped oranges.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-60 minutes. Nigella says to bake for an hour; mine baked in 35-40 minutes. I can’t quite recall which, but my oven really is amazingly hot. I need to try pizza soon. Anyway, a toothpick should emerge from the center of your cake relatively clean when it’s done.

Nigella also says you may have to cover the top with foil to keep it from browning, which may be true if your cake takes closer to an hour to finish.

Printable recipe here.


  1. Looks FANTASTIC, Becky! You have a way of enabling me to almost taste it--not good for concentrating while at work! :) --Mikhaile

  2. So glad you continue to enjoy. :)

  3. oh Becky this looks to die for.....I wonder how it would be with blood oranges....wish I had a piece right now!
    I am so Glad to have found your blog!!

  4. I imagine it would be lovely with blood oranges ... the pink would be delightful! Thanks so much!

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