This orange and almond cake has ORANGE – the zest, the juice and even bits of plump segments. Seduced by the bright orange lure of Maltas, I dreamed of a fresh, light and healthy cake that I could eat for breakfast. Mediterranean in origin, Italian or/and Spanish, an orange and almond cake to me, is evocative of sunshine-soaked days of sweet serendipity, lying under a an orange tree, catching up on a book perhaps. The heady aroma of orange oils rubbing against my palms and fat segments of Malta bursting with juice; the cake had to capture that sensory experience.
As far as ingredients go, this, orange and almond cake is not at all demanding of your time or wallet. It only asks for fresh oranges, Maltas preferably. All the other stuff like almonds, sugar, eggs, semolina and butter are standard store cupboard items that everyone has at home. I blanched, peeled, dried and ground the almonds to make my own almond flour. Store-bought flour will save you time and effort. You’ll notice that I added a small amount of semolina to the cake batter. This I did to give the cake a little firmness that sometimes can be lacking in a 100% almond-flour batter. For a gluten-free version of this orange and almond cake, substitute the semolina with 100 g almond flour. Remember to omit the butter if you use only almond flour because the oil content in the almonds is more than enough for the cake; extra fat will make the cake greasy.
The Malta, a variety of blood orange cultivated on sunny Sicilian slopes was used for its strongly scented peel as much as for its juice. Clear, vibrant orange in colour, the skin of this citrus is shiny because of all the orange oil it holds; just squeeze a strip of skin between your fingers and they’ll smell exquisite all day. So I used 2 whole heaped tablespoons of this densely aromatic zest to saturate my cake with ‘oranginess’. Even while juicing the fruit, I didn’t bother to strain. I wanted all those little globules of juice and pulp to add moisture and fruit to the cake. This variety of orange with its firm, unpuckered skin is very easy to peel; in fact you can slice off skin and pith with a sharp knife to get to the juice-filled core.
This orange and almond cake has a delicate crumb and therefore is baked in a springform pan so that it can be released easily instead of being turned out of a normal cake tin which may cause it to crack. It keeps well, covered in the fridge. I drizzled a few tablespoons of orange juice mixed with a tablespoon of brandy to give the cake a little twist since the bitter notes of orange and brandy complement each other well. But you can leave it out completely and the cake will be as yummy. Serve it with freshly cut orange segments and tangy Greek yoghurt and savour a juice-drenched slice of orange sunshine.
- 300 g ground almonds (almond flour)
- 100 g semolina
- 4 eggs
- 160 g caster sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 heaped tbsp grated Malta orange zest
- Juice of 1 large Malta orange
- Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Whisk the almond flour and semolina together till well combined.
- In a large bowl, cream the orange zest, sugar and butter till light and fluffy ( about 2 mins with in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer).
- Add the eggs and beat for a further 2 minutes.
- Gently fold in the flour mixture and the orange juice.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 mins until browned and firm.
- Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and letting cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with fresh orange segments and dollops of Greek yoghurt.