A zesty finale for an Eastern Mediterranean meal.
This zesty cake is the Eastern Mediterranean’s version of a Clementine. Very Simple to make and in this case, simplicity is born out of necessity using locally grown oranges and almonds, farm fresh eggs, and sugar. That’s essentially all there is to it! The result is an almost macaroon like confection that is moist, bitter, sweet, and perfumed with the aroma of almonds. Gluten and fat free, this cake is a sunny sweet indulgence with benefits!
Eastern Mediterranean Orange & Almond Cake serves 6-8
- 3 large oranges
- 6 organic eggs, lightly whisked
- 1 ½ cups/250g blanched almonds
- 1 ½ cups castor (super fine) sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 scant teaspoon almond extract
For finishing: Candied orange peel zest (optional)
- 1 orange , peeled zest and juice
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup castor sugar plus additional for coating
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Prepare ahead: Place two whole oranges in a deep saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Nearly cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the oranges and set aside to cool and then refrigerate for several hours.
Once the oranges are well chilled, slice the ends off the oranges and slice the oranges into quarters, including the skin, and chop each quarter into pieces, removing all the seeds and the center pithy membrane. Set aside to use later.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C Lightly butter a 9 ½-10 inch springform pan, lining the bottom with a circle or baking parchment, buttered.
Place the blanched almonds in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are the consistency of a course flour. Transfer the almond flour to a mixing bowl and add the sugar and baking powder and mix until well combined. Set aside to use later.
Place the reserved cooked chopped orange pieces in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the oranges are well chopped. Add the whisked eggs and pulse until the mixture is relatively smooth.
Pour the orange egg mixture into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and stir together until well combined. Add the almond extract and stir into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, place the pan on a baking sheet, and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 35 to 50minutes, checking after 30 minutes by touching the surface of the cake. If still very soft continue baking just until the cake is set, but not firm! Check the cake by inserting a wooden skewer into the center of the cake. It should look slightly moist rather than clean as it would look coming out of a finished flour based cake. Remove the cake from the oven promptly and set on a cooling rack to cool completely before removing it from the spring form pan.
While the cake is baking you can prepare the candied orange peel. As mentioned, this is entirely optional, but it does make a very nice finish for the cake. Using a vegetable peeler; peel a wide swath of zest in one continuous motion from the top to the bottom of the orange. Cut the zest into 3 inch lengths and slice each length into thin ribbons. Juice the orange and set the juice aside to use later.
Place the zest in a small stainless saucepan along with 1/2 cup water and cook for 30 minutes. Rinse the zest and return it to the pan with the remaining 1/2 cup water and simmer once again until the zest is tender. Drain the zest, return it to the saucepan, add the reserved orange juice and castor sugar, bring to a low simmer, and cook until the juice has nearly evaporated and reduced into a very thick syrup.
Place a piece of parchment on a baking tray and scatter sugar over the surface. Remove the candied zest from the saucepan, shaking off any excess syrup, and drop it onto the sugar on the tray. After a minute or two roll the zest around in the sugar until evenly coated and set aside on a plate to cool completely.
Finishing and serving
Once the cake is completely cool, release the spring on the pan and lift the cake out of the pan. If serving the entire cake immediately, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar and scatter the candied orange peel zest over the surface. Transfer the cake to a serving platter, if serving at the table, or simply slice individual servings, add the candied orange zest to each slice, plate and serve.
If the cake is not to be used immediately, cover the springform pan with cling film and refrigerate for up to several days. This cake, contrary to buttery cakes, is best served cold, so you might take that into consideration when planning ahead! Add the candied orange zest just before serving.