I almost (very stupidly) dismissed this recipe the moment I came across it. It instructed me to boil two whole oranges for half an hour prior to making the cake and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed. I wondered 'why go to all of that effort'? That’s until I started thinking about how intense this cake would be considering it had two whole oranges, ‘skins and all’ in it. My curiosity got the better of me and I am so thrilled that it did. This cake is intense and I mean orange intense! It’s syrupy, sweet and dense however it also manages to be fresh, light and zesty all at exactly the same time. But it’s not just the orange that I love about this cake, I also adore the almond meal! Almond meal is simply finely ground almonds with the skin on and in this cake the almond meal gives the most incredible moist texture and sweet nutty flavours to the crumb! And another ‘love factor’ of this dessert is that it can be made celiac friendly simply by omitting the small amount of flour and increasing the almond meal.
'The icing on the cake' is in fact the orange syrup. In a small saucepan I combined water, sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice and cooked over medium heat until the sugar was dissolved and the mixture had thickened slightly to create a sweet citrus syrup. And by drizzling the cake with this gorgeous sweet and orangey liquid, you take it to a whole new level. I mean the cake is great on its own but when you add the syrup, it becomes magnificent! The syrup not only moistens the cake further but adds a little extra sweetness too. The only final flourish I spoil myself with is a dollop of whipped mascarpone, this is thick and creamy and works so well when it swishes and combines with the extra sweet syrup at the bottom of your bowl, leaving you wanting more! Enjoy! K X
Almond and Orange Syrup Cake
Adapted from Donna Hay ‘Off the Shelf’
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups ground almonds
½ cup self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Orange Syrup –
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/3 cups water
Preheat the oven to 180°. Line the base and sides of a 22 cm tin. Place the oranges in a saucepan of water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (you may need to top up the water, do not allow to boil dry). Remove the oranges from water and chop roughly to remove any seeds. Process the oranges, butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour and baking powder in a food processor until smooth. Spoon mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour (I start checking at 45 minutes) or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
To make the orange syrup, place the sugar, orange juice and water in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly.
To serve, drizzle 1/3 cup of the syrup slowly over the entire cake, allowing the syrup to soak into the cake as you pour. Cut the warm cake into wedges and serve with mascarpone or thick cream. Serves 8-10.