Saturday, 14 January 2012

La Dolce Vita

Sweet Orange Cake

Cakes and sweet baking are not something I do all that often, indeed this may in fact be the first post in that genre.  Rectifying that imbalance I thought I might put this recipe up.  Originally coming from a newspaper clipping, my mother raves about this recipe and makes it often; I’d be fibbing if I told you I wasn’t a convert! 

Apart from being a deliciously moist cake it has a few points which make it a good one to have in the repertoire; very easy to make, particularly if you have a food processor, versatile enough to serve with coffee or as a dessert, also is gluten free.  The gluten free part is also one of the strengths even if you can eat it. The absence of gluten makes such a delicate recipe!  Having friends and family who are intolerant and ceoliac, it’s great to have wonderful recipes to share with them.
No doubt the recipe owes more than a little to the masters of sweet aromatic delicacies in the middle east,  I actually added a tiny tweak to the recipe in that vein this first time I made it.  I have a few further suggestions for variations, but to the recipe…

Roughly shot in a hurry, but you get the idea, YUM!
2 oranges, washed
250g slivered almonds
8 dried Apricots, chopped
1 cup caster sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp baking powder


1 orange
½ cup caster sugar
A few drops of rose water essence

Preheat the oven to 150 C.  Put the oranges in a freezer bag loosely sealed and microwave on high for 12 minutes, I’d also pop that in a bowl to avoid leaks! Set them aside for a few minutes to cool.  Grease a 22cm round cake tin and line it with baking paper.  This cake is a big softy so make sure you line with the paper or getting it out may be a hard ask!  Open the oranges up and get any seeds out, also remove any stem remnants.  Pulse the almonds a few times in the food processor to roughly chop, throw in the torn apart whole oranges and apricots and give these a whizz to finely chop and combine.  Caster sugar can be added now and mixed through, finally add the eggs and baking powder and mix for 10-20 secs to combine.  Pour out into the baking tin and bake for 1hr, or until deep golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly.
For the syrup, take the zest off then juice the orange, combine these and add the sugar in a saucepan, stir vigorously, bring it to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes without stirring.  Take it off the heat and let it cool down.  My tweak from the original was to add the rosewater essence once the syrup was cool, I think it lifts the citrus aroma and flavour and adds such a lovely note to the cake.  
Now at this point the original recipe says to pour over the syrup at serving with cream, ice cream, thick yogurt etc.  This is absolutely fine, however (thanks again mum!) I think the cake is even better if you pour over the still warm syrup and leave it to soak into the cake, and it gets better over a day or two.  Obviously it can still be served with ice cream etc.
As for other variations in the recipe, think about dried figs (possibly soaked in liqueur of some sort) with or instead of the apricots, a little cinnamon in cake or syrup, nutmeg and possibly slivered pistachios over the top with the syrup. Mmm!    

photo of a photo aka "serving suggeston" thanks to the Daily Telegraph.

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