An intense orange flavor combined with the texture of ground almonds makes this cake a delicious treat for a winter's day. The recipe comes from Claudia Roden's Mediterranean Cookery; she writes that the recipe came from a Spanish travel companion. It is a flourless cake, consisting of only almonds, eggs, sugar, and orange zest; it is then impregnated with an orange syrup, so it becomes very very moist. It's quite simple to make, the only complication being separating the eggs and beating the egg whites till stiff. The cake was a hit at my art group yesterday.
4 eggs, separated
125 g (4 oz) sugar (note: I always used a kitchen scale for measuring, so I looked up the equivalent in cups: it's about 1/2 cup)
grated zest of one orange
50 g (2 oz) ground almonds
50 g (2 oz) blanched almonds, finely chopped (2 oz equals 2/5 cup, so a little more than 1/3, a little less than 1/2 cup)
For the syrup:
Juice of 3 or 4 oranges, equaling about 300 ml, or 10 fl oz)
75 g (3 oz, 3/8 cup) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs orange liqueur (optional; I add the zest from 1/2 orange for more flavor instead of the liqueur)
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Mix egg yolks with sugar, orange zest, and all the almonds.
- Beat egg whites till stiff; fold gently into the egg yolk mixture.
- Pour mixture into a greased and floured non-stick 8 inch cake pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned. The recipe calls for 45 minutes, but that's much too long, at least in my oven. The cake will puff up in the oven and sink back down as it cools.
- Allow the cake to cool, then transfer it to a serving dish.
- For the syrup, simmer the orange juice with the sugar and cinnamon stick (and orange zest if using) for a few minutes until the sugar is melted. Add the liqueur if using.
- Prick the cake with small holes, for instance using a toothpick, then pour the syrup over it. It takes a while for the syrup to really sink in. Roden suggests eating the cake the day after it is made, which is what I've done.
Serves 6-8 hungry people, or 8-12 with smaller portions, which I think are quite sufficient.
For my newer readers, here's a link to more of the recipes on this blog.