We were sitting down to dinner last night when the phone rang. It was Grace with the news that she had just cooked a recipe from one of my first blogs, the Karaage, aka Japanese fried chicken. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when she told me that dinner had been a success. The recipe worked and her karaage looked exactly like my picture in the post. Grace does a lot of cooking and we have spent many hours discussing food, so naturally to my ears this was high praise indeed.
Our conversation meandered to baking, and children, and allergies. There’s a wonderful tradition of children taking cake into school on their birthdays to share with their classmates, and its so sad when one or two miss out because of food intolerances. I told Grace about a gorgeous Almond and Orange Cake that I bake for afternoon tea that ticks all the gluten and lactose free boxes. In typical, inimitable Grace style her immediate response was: post it on the blog and Ill bake it on the weekend.
Well Grace, luckily I already have a half written post and one of my rather dodgy photos on file. In fact I think I had been planning to bake another cake to get a better photo, but because I am so taken by the fact that you cooked one of my recipes and loved it, this one’s for you.
Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cake.
There are a lot of recipes out there for this cake, but the best ones are flourless and use whole oranges; boiled in their skins, pulverised and enriched with eggs, sugar and almond meal. The doyenne of Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cakes is Claudia Roden. The recipe that I know and love was given to me by a friend many years ago, and bears a very close resemblance.
This cake is a dream. Its easy to make. Its dense but moist and bursting with orange flavour. I remember the first time I made it I was quite apprehensive. There was no butter, or oil. I remember cross referencing the recipe back to Stephanie Alexander’s food bible, the Cook’s Companion, and breathing a sigh of relief; no butter or oil in her version either.
For the Cake
1 1/3 cups (250 g) caster sugar
2 1/2 cups (250 g) almond meal
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
Oil, vegetable or olive for greasing the tin
Extra caster sugar for dusting the tin before baking
Icing sugar for dusting after baking
To Prepare the Oranges
WASH oranges and place unpeeled in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain. Return to the saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Cook for a further hour to reduce the bitterness of the peel. Drain. Allow to cool. This can be done ahead of time.
To Make the Cake
PREHEAT oven to 170C, non fanforced.
GREASE a 20cm springform cake tin with oil and dust with sugar.
COARSELY chop oranges, removing any pips. Pulverise using a stick mixer, blender or food processor.
BREAK eggs into a bowl, add caster sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
BEAT the pulverised oranges into the mixture.
ADD almond meal and baking powder, fold to combine.
POUR batter into the prepared cake tin, and sprinkle caster sugar on top.
BAKE for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and top is golden brown.
DUST with icing sugar when cool.