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Entries in almond (1)


Orange Almond Cake infused with cardamon - New Year's Keeps on  


Torte, styled.

When we get invited to out to a friends’ for dinner, I am usually asked to bring dessert.  I don’t mind this as I love making desserts, but I am pretty much in pattern of creating seasonal fruit desserts with the occasional lapse into the chocolate box.   I stick to crisps, tarts and sometimes just macerated fruit with ice cream.  I am trying to change this around a bit and at the same time, trying to not go shopping for the one ingredient that is crucial to my dish and that can only be procured on alternate Wednesdays fifty miles from home. I am trying to simplify my life, not complicate things for the sake of cake.

For Persian New Year, I wanted to make something that was vaguely Persian, but was going to leave the cookies to my mother who I simply cannot compete with for taste and quality of her cookies.  I thought about doing something with rice flour and rose water, but then decided that that combination was too sweet and floral.  I wanted to use things that I had on hand – almonds, fruit, eggs and yogurt.  In my googling/epicuriousing/searching I found several great recipes for a Persian Orange Almond Cake that are derived from Claudia Roden’s 1968 cookbook, The New Book of Middle East Food.  In my years, I have never heard of such a cake.  I was all for trying to change things up and the recipe required no searching a store for an ingredient I didn’t have on hand already. Note: not everyone has unicorn horns in their pantry, but I do.

oranges and almonds

Unicorns need not fear.

The recipe is pretty simple, whole oranges are boiled twice to remove the bitterness. This is the same technique that jam makers suggest for extracting the bitter oils from citrus for marmalade.  The whole oranges are pureed in a food processor, and then added to an egg and sugar mixture.  All are incorporated with nut flour and a few more things and a beautiful rich moist torte is created.  The torte sits well on its own, but is even better with a side of crème fraiche ice cream or an orange blossom flavored strained Greek yoghurt.  We loved it so much; we ate it for breakfast the next day.  It does require a little preparation, as the oranges need to boiled twice, but I started the boiling the night before and that saved a little bit of time.

I am a big fan of the nut torte.  I am trying to limit my exposure to wheat, and nuts are something that seems to be easy to process and work wonderfully for some cakes and cookies. 

orange almond cake

Folding in ingredients. Do not over mix.

Orange Almond Cake for a New Year feast – Adapted from Claudia Roden with great props given to Australia’s Taste.com

Serves 12 

This recipe calls for oranges to be boiled and then pureed. I used my Cuisinart, the original calls for mushing up the cooked oranges and pressing them through a sieve. The pureeing using modern machinery is much easier and adds way more fiber.  I did end up weighing the sugar and almond powder because they seem to vary if those ingredients settle. My oranges were medium sized and pretty juicy which means that my cake remained nice and moist.

2 medium sized oranges
300 g. almond meal
1 t baking powder
½ t cardamom
½ t cinnamon
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar (would use a little less 2/3 c. next time)

Cake Instructions:

Wash oranges and place in a sauce pan with enough water to cover the oranges.  Turn on stove and bring oranges to a boil and then turn to a simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and drain water.  Add cold water and repeat process again.  Drain oranges and let cool. Note: This can be done the night before, just put the oranges in the fridge until you need them. They will be squishy and that is a good thing.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9” springform pan with cooking spray or olive oil, cut parchment to fit the bottom, coat sides with almond flour.

Puree oranges in food processor until smooth. I didn’t bother to remove the pips as I had navel oranges, if you have seeds, you may want to go to the trouble of removing them first.

Place sugar and eggs in mixing bowl and beat with electric beater until pale yellow and thick.  Turn off mixer.  Add pureed oranges to the egg and sugar mixture. Combine almonds, baking powder, and spices together and fold into the orange/egg/sugar mixture.  Mix to combine, but do not over mix.  Pour into prepared springform pan and place in oven.  Cook for 40 minutes, check for doneness by using a wooden skewer, if it comes out clean, it is done. If not, cook for longer. Once the cake is done, remove from oven and let cool on cake rack. Remove from springform pan after 20 minutes.

Orange Glaze
Juice of one medium juice
Slivers of peel from one orange, zest would probably be fine
¼ c Sugar
1 t orange blossom water

Combine sugar, orange juice and zest in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook until thick and syrupy.  Remove from heat and add orange blossom water and let cool. If it thickens further to the point of gloopiness, add a 1 T water to thin. Thinly brush glaze on cake and use remaining as a garnish on the side.

Orange Blossom Strained Yogurt  (can be made ahead of time):

1.5 cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar)
1 t orange blossom water

Combine ingredients until blended.  Place mixture in a coffee filter and let sit in a sieve/strainer overnight in fridge until thickened.  Remove from coffee filter, place in container, in fridge and cover until use.

Serving Instructions:

At this point, you can serve the cooled cake with a lightly sweetened ricotta, the Greek yoghurt described above or a crème fraiche ice cream.  I think the cake is better after it has sat a day. If you are going to do that, wrap cake well in foil until you are ready to serve it.