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Nuts About Sweets: Orange and Almond Cake

July has been a busy month, but with minutes to spare I have managed to create my entry for this months Sweet Adventures Blog Hop.  Hosted by Nic, from Dining with a Stud, the theme this month is nuts.  Nuts are not my best friend, although the blood tests say I don’t have an allergy, on more than one occasion I have ended up with itchy, swollen eyes and lips, so I tend to avoid most of them like the plague!  Almonds, however seem to tolerate me, so almonds it is.  Apologies that the nuts are not the star of the show, but as you can imagine, they very rarely star in anything around here.

The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop has been a great adventure for me, as someone who never used to have a sweet tooth I’ve been discovering a multitude of desserts and sweet treats that I would never had dreamt of eating 12 months ago and this month it’s cake.  I have made a couple in my time, but that is literally it. In order to further my dessert skills I try to make something different each month so seven months in, it was time for cake.

I based my recipe on a blood orange, almond and pistachio cake from Decadence by Philip Johnson.  I probably should have just followed the recipe but I can’t help but change things.  This meant my cooking times and temperatures were a bit out.  If you make this cake, bake with caution as I can’t guarantee the modified temperature and time is right, but hopefully you’ve baked more cakes than me and will use your own judgment.  Despite being a little more caramelised than one would prefer, it was delicious and one I would bake again.

Orange and Almond Cake (serves 8-12)

8 Rosy naval oranges or blood oranges
250g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon baking powder
75g plain flour
300g Almond meal
10g caster sugar

To start, put four of the whole oranges in a pan, cover with water then put an upturned plate on top to keep them submerged.  Simmer for about 1 hour or until the oranges are very soft.  Remove from the water and and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, quarter the oranges and remove the flesh reserving as much juice as possible and removing any tough skin, seeds (if there are any) and pith.  Put the pulp and juice in a food processor and puree briefly. Reserve 350ml of pulp. My oranges made close to 500ml but if you don’t have enough, top up with a little water.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, put the butter and sugar into an electric stand mixture and beat until pale and fluffy.  Separate the eggs, then add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time.  Do this slowly so the mixture doesn’t curdle. I still managed to curdle mine, but didn’t have any other ingredients so had to use it anyway.  I did a bit of Googling and I’m not sure it affects the finished product too greatly.

Add the 350ml of orange pulp to the mixture gradually, as this may also curdle the cake mixture if it hasn’t curdled already.  Continue to mix until it is thoroughly mixed.

Combine the flour, baking powder and almond meal in a bowl.  You could sieve it, but I find almond meal a pain to sieve, so I just made sure there were no lumps in the baking powder or almond meal and it was well combined.  Fold this through the rest of the cake mixture until it is well combined.

Whisk the separated egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form, then fold into the cake mixture.  Pour the mixture into a greased, springform cake tin.  Bake in the oven 50-60 minutes until the top of the cake is brown and the centre is cooked through.  If the cake is browning too quickly, cover it with foil.  The cake is cooked when you insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean.

To make the orange syrup, take the juice of two of the remaining oranges and mix with the extra 10g of caster sugar.  Heat in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved.  Peel and slice the remaining two oranges to decorate the top of the cake.

Serve with the orange syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche.

Edit: Having just watched a Masterchef masterclass I think I might try creaming the egg yolks with the sugar before adding the butter next time.


Comment from Claire @ Claire K Creations
Time July 23, 2012 at 8:21 am

It’s definitely got enough almond in it to consider it a star along with the orange of course.

For someone who hasn’t made a lot of cakes in her time you sure did a good job! It looks delicious.

Comment from Nic @diningwithastud
Time July 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Gorgeous dessert :) fab job! Thanks for joining the hop!!

Comment from nic
Time July 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Thanks Nic!

And Claire, your comments are kind but it was definitely a little browner in places than it should have been! It did taste good when I’d chopped those bits off though!

Comment from Chris
Time July 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

That cake looks nice and I can imagine that it tastes nice as well with oranges and almonds! Luvly!

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