Jewish Orange and Almond Cake

This was the first recipe I made after DrK gave us the Food Safari cookbook for Christmas. Either I spotted it right away, or I remembered it from the tv show. I can’t quite recall. But it was first cab off the rank and it still rates as the best thing I’ve made from this book.

I first wrote about it here. I’m using the same photo because the cake I made for today was demolished at work and I didn’t feel it was the done thing to sit in front of my colleagues and do the food blogger thing. So, it’s a repeat performance of this photo. It was a good cake to take to work where there are Gluten Intolerant people. I’d never make a cake with Gluten Free flour; but I’ll make a cake that just happens to be gluten free happily, especially one as good as this.

almond cake

I think this is my favourite cake in the world. That’s a big call. When you think of delicate sponges, hardcore chocolate cakes, complex creations like Black Forrest Cake, it certainly has a some stiff competition but having just polished off another slice, I think I know what it is I love. It’s damp. It’s tangy. It’s not too sweet. It’s unfussy.

I’ve heard tales of versions made with the addition of a rich ganache, or with lemons and one day I might try an alternative but for now, I’m so utterly smitten with this almond-rich, citrusy flavoured charmer, that I’m keen to just keep it as it is.

Apart from the being the most delicious cake I’ve ever eaten, it’s also one of the most simple. When I was describing this at work today, a member of my team suggested that the two hours required for boiling the oranges you’ll use in the cake made it cumbersome. I’m sorry, since when does ‘put two oranges in water and leave to simmer for two hours’ constitute complex culinary requirements?

I boiled two large oranges the night before I made the cake, let them cool over night and baked the cake early the next morning. Even the cooking part is immensely straight forward. It takes only eggs, almond meal, baking powder and sugar. The two oranges, which are by now soft and mushy, are pureed whole and added to the cake. Now, I’m not an orange eater. I like the flavour of them but not the eating so I was wary of the pureed whole aspect but after two hours, they’re so soft and the skin so moist that they puree down to a syrupy liquid and go into the bowl creating a lovely, wet mix.

One hour and fifteen minutes, you have a lovely, dense, flavourful cake. I know for a fact that on my recommendation, Delly tried this cake and it wasn’t a success. It was overcooked. The recipe says to cook it for one to one and a half hours. In my oven, one hour and fifteen minutes was ample. It was starting to get a touch a too dark on top and I could have even pulled it out sooner.

All that’s left is to let it cool, take out of the tin and serve with icing sugar sprinkled over it.

This week, Delly and her family are coming to stay and I won’t be here. I’ll be away. Because I am a good and loving sister, I’m going to make another one tomorrow so she can have some in my absence. And it won’t be cumbersome. Not in the least.



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Hilyard
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 21:57:04

    This sounds very like Claudia Roden’s orange and almond cake in her “Book of Middle Eastern Food” published in the 1970s. I don’t have that book in front of me to compare, but it’s interesting how recipes go around and come back, sometimes with little tweaks. Either way, it IS a great cake, and utterly delicious. A great thing to knock out for a visiting sis!

    Do you know Claudia Roden’s book? It’s a great read.


    • bellsknits
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 22:00:07

      On the first post I wrote about this cake, Claudia Rodin’s book is one of the top search engine terms that brings people to that post. So I’ve checked it out in reference to that and have in mind to get a copy of the book some time.


  2. David Hilyard
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 22:11:26

    Do get it! She updated it recently, so make sure you get the new one. It is up there, in my opinion, with Elizabeth David’s “French Provincial Cooking”. And you know that, from me, that is High Praise Indeed. She has a broad spectrum of stunning recipes, and puts them firmly into a social context, and, often, into a personal family context. I have had three decades of enjoyable cooking from this book.


  3. Rose Red
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 00:51:16

    It is a great cake, isn’t it. I suppose people might think it’s cumbersome because you can’t just whip one up in an hour (including baking time) like you can with most cakes. But as long as you think about it in advance, the 2 hour boiling of the oranges couldn’t be easier!

    I meant to make this again last time you posted about it and I forgot, I really mustn’t forget again!


  4. Delly
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 08:03:57

    I am so looking forward to trying this cake. I was so bitterly disappointed when I tried it and failed so tremendously. However, one must overcome these trying events. So after tatsing this cake tomorrow night – I will endeavour to give it another go.

    Thanks Bells!


  5. drkknits
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 08:47:17

    yum yum yum. damp syruppy orange cakey goodness. it must be almost healthfood too!


  6. Gae
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 16:22:17

    And don’t forget – almonds are SO good for you !! This is a real favourite here too, and exactly right – gluten free without looking, tasting or even feeling like gluten free.

    Gae, in Callala Bay


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