I ran across this lovely recipe a few weeks ago and was very intrigued. I knew right away that I needed to try it soon, and I'm so glad I did. Today I'm sharing an interesting but simple recipe from Claudia Roden, a well loved food writer and cookbook author, especially known for her writings on Middle Easter food. What initially peaked my interest was the fact that this recipe calls for whole oranges, that you boil for several hours, and then puree directly into the rest of the batter, skin, pith, flesh and all! And besides this strange (at least to me) method, the rest of the recipe is simple, with few ingredients. Sugar, eggs, an almonds. That's basically it.
The finished cake is dense but incredibly moist, full of texture and flavor. The whole orange imparts just a slight bitterness to the cake that is balanced nicely with just the right amount of sugar. The almonds add richness, as do the eggs which also help with the structure a little. The orange flavor is, not surprisingly, very pronounced (with whole oranges and all!). A small slice of this cake for breakfast, or after dinner for dessert, is refreshing and satisfying. Delicious on its own, or my favorite way with a nice spoonful of plain yogurt on the side for a creamy and smooth contrasting element (I decided to try this out on my own and thought it was amazing!).
I ended up halving the original recipe, and baking it into a small, 6 inch, cake. Perfect for me and a few friends. Feel free to double the quantities below and bake in a larger pan (I imagine 8 or 9 inches would be good). I highly recommend having some nice and thick plain Greek yogurt (make sure it's plain, the contrast with the sweet cake is ideal) on the side. I'm sure a little whipped cream would also be nice, but just a bit richer/heavier.
Orange and Almond Cake
Adapted from A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
- 1 large orange
- 3 eggs
- 125 grams ground almonds
- 125 grams sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Wash and boil the orange (unpeeled) in a little water for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until very soft. Let cool. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 6 inch cake pan.
Cut open the cooled orange and remove the seeds. Place orange in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the sugar and process again until well combined. Then add the eggs and process once more. Finally, add the almonds and baking powder and process until everything just comes together.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1 hour. If it is still very wet, leave it in the oven for a little longer. Cool in the pan before turning out.